Lee County and the Minnesota Twins broke ground Thursday on the $48.5 million renovations to the Lee County Sports Complex (LCSC) and Hammond Stadium.
The complex serves as the Spring Training home of the Twins as well as the team's year-round player development operations, including the franchise's Florida State League affiliate Fort Myers Miracle.
"Since 1991 the Twins and Lee County have enjoyed the model public-private partnership," said Twins president Dave St. Peter. "Today's groundbreaking signifies the evolution of the partnership as well as this facility. The Twins are honored to call Southwest Florida home and are committed to continued year-round engagement across the community. Moreover, we believe the LCSC renovation project will only further solidify Lee County's reputation as a Grapefruit League hotbed."
"The renovations are off to a start, and we are pleased to recognize all our partners who are working as a team to ensure a successful project," said Lee County Commission Chairman Cecil Pendergrass. "It's important to note that all Lee County funding for the project comes from bed taxes, not from Lee County residents."
Designed by Populous, a global sport and convention center architecture firm, the renovations will be completed in two phases.
Phase 1 renovations are expected to be completed by the spring of 2014 and will include:
* A new residential player development academy.
* Renovations to the Minor League clubhouse and administrative areas.
* A new Gulf Coast League playing field.
*A new agility field.
* Completion of a 360-degree boardwalk and concourse at Hammond Stadium, including new berm seating in left field.
* Expansion of Hammond Stadium's seating capacity of 8,000 to 9,300.
* A new parking lot.
Phase 2 additions and renovations at Hammond Stadium are expected to be completed by February 2015 and will include:
* Upgraded and expanded concourses
* Improved concession services
* Restroom renovations
* Premium seating improvements
* Clubhouse expansion and improvements
* A new retail store
* New areas for group seating
* Press box renovations
All construction is expected to be completed in time for Spring Training 2015.
The Twins have been training in Fort Myers at the Lee County Sports Complex since 1991.
In November 2012, after more than 20 years in Fort Myers, the renovations were approved and the Twins signed a 30-year lease to remain at the Lee County Sports Complex.
Each year, Spring Training games generate more than $47 million for Lee County, driving visitors to local attractions, restaurants, hotels and shopping.