“A group of Naples rsidents have their minds set on transforming prime downtown real estate into their own field of dreams. But some city and Collier County officials believe an attempt to lure a baseball team to Naples for spring training is nothing more than an expensive notion.”
The group would like the the Chicago Cubs to take a look at what Naples has to offer and hopefully say goodbye to their Mesa, Arizona spring training location.
Naples architect, John Geshay said that the group has had at least one meeeting and the movement is still early in the planning stages.
City and county officials along with Collier County tourism director Jack Wert have expressed concerns as to whether spring training could work in Naples and will the investment produce a positive return.
Alan Byed, author of “Florida Spring Training, Your Guide to the Grapefruit League” said he hasn’t seen a downfall to the $400 million that Spring Training brings to the state each year. Still, with local and state governments facing financial difficulties, Byrd said it’s hard to sell officials on spring trianing.
“Byrd said it typically costs between $50 million and $70 million in construction costs to build a stadium. That doesn’t include the cost of acquiring the land, ideally between 30 and 40 acres, something that local governments often have to do before they can move forward with a bid. Naples would be a prime location because it’s just a drive away from many spring training sites.”
“According to an April 3rd article in the Arizona Republic, the Chicago Cubs can opt out of its 20-year agreement with Mesa next year and leave the city in 2012 for $4.2 million.”
In a meeting earlier this month Gershay said,”that three sites within Naples’ city limits could be used to house the 10,000 seat stadium and three practice fields needed for spring training.” “He suggested the Renaissance Village property, 22 acres at the northwest corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and Fifth Avenue South; the soon to be vacant Naples Daily News building and 12 acres on Central Avenue; and a piece of city-owned property along the Gordon River that offers up to 32 acres of land, according to a conceptual site plan Geshay provided. Combined that would be about 66 acres of property.”
Naples 42-foot height limitation is another hurdle that would need to be addressed. The height amendment applies to all of the areas Gershay mentioned as sites for the complex. “Byrd said the height of a stadium really depends on what a community is going for.”
Some believe that Naples could be a good location for a new spring training home while others are not sure.