Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES in MA » MASSACHUSETTS (all topics) » Fenway South?
Fenway Park
Fenway South?

Fort Myers, Florida

By Peter F. Demers | March 29, 2011

Where do Boston’s Boys of Summer go during the winter? Fort Myers, Florida, of course.

As New Englanders await the start of spring, sports fans are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the baseball season and the opening game at Fenway. Of course, the expectations are that the team is ready to take on our arch enemy, The New York Yankees, although the season opener on April 1st is with the Texas Rangers.

THe Groundbreaking Ceremony held on March 4, 2011
This photo appears courtesy of Boston Red Sox Baseball Club Limited Partnership

While most of our attention has been focused on the Bruins and the Celtics, our Sox have been in spring training where they have maintained a normal game schedule since March 1st and lasting until March 30th, a day before they head north to Fenway.

While New Englanders rightly claim the Sox as their own, Fort Myers has invested heavily in insuring that the team views Fort Myers as their home-away-from-home, by agreeing to build them a brand new stadium.

Fort Myers and Lee County have a long tradition of being a winter home to baseball teams at one time or another, hosting many of the major league teams for spring training. In addition the Red Sox, they are also the winter home of the Minnesota Twins.

The Red Sox first came to Fort Myers from Winter Haven, Florida in 1993 when they signed an agreement with the City of Fort Myers. In 2003, the City of Fort Myers transferred ownership of the City of Palm Park to Lee County and in 2004 the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years and followed that with another World Series win in 2007.

Not knowing whether John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox, is a superstitious man or not, one can only guess that starting the series in Fort Myers has been good enough mojo for the Sox to warrant signing an agreement that will keep them in Lee County until 2041.

In addition to committing to the keeping the Sox in Lee County, the 2008 agreement also called for Lee County to build a new Spring Training and Ballpark Development Complex for the club. The new Red Sox training complex will provide state of the art training facilities positioned on a single site. It will include an 11,000 seat main ballpark, six practice fields, and other adjoining operations that will house both Major and Minor League operations, as well as a rehabilitation center.

Ryan Lavarnway

The presence of the Red Sox has been a boon to the Lee County tourist industry bringing thousands of fans looking to get an early look at their team and escape the cold and snow of the New England winter. A 2009 study by the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau determined that Red Sox baseball brought in $23.9 million to the local economy from tourists who came to be a part of the spring training and attend spring training games.

The Red Sox are well known to New Englanders as being tremendous community partners with both the organization and the players being active participants in numerous community and charitable events and fund raisers.

Even though their time in Lee County is considerably less than they spend in their Boston home, they nonetheless have helped raise millions of dollars and provided volunteer help and in-kind support for numerous charitable and non-profit organizations, such as the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County, Hope Hospice, Community Cooperative Soup Kitchen and many others.

Known as Florida’s unspoiled island sanctuary, Lee County and Fort Myers is a favorite vacation spot for visitors from across the United States and abroad. In addition to the beautiful natural environment, active travelers are pleased to find an abundance of golf, tennis and water sports as well as some unusual attractions.

An Excited Fan

The Lee County area embraces nine distinct areas, each with its own unique character. Best known are Sanibel and Captiva islands, connected to the mainland by an alluring three-mile-long causeway and, to each other, by a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bridge at Blind Pass.

Sanibel is known worldwide for its shelling and the associated posture referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop.” Sanibel’s main thoroughfare, Periwinkle Way, is Sunday-drive picturesque, lush with foliage. Interesting shops and restaurants dot the road from Sanibel Lighthouse to Tarpon Bay Road, making it difficult to complete the distance without a half dozen sight-seeking stops at the boutiques and art galleries.

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to many exotic species of birds and plants which occupies more than two-thirds of the island. Off the coast of Sanibel and Captiva islands, boaters will discover more than 100 outer coastal islands.   Many are uninhabited mangrove clusters while others take visitors’ breath away with their beautiful beaches. Both North Captiva and Cayo Costa Island Preserve are known for their virtually deserted yet alluring coastlines and excellent shelling potential.

But with the baseball season fast approaching Red Sox fans worldwide are eagerly awaiting the opening game on Friday.

Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.