11/06/12 1:25 PM ET
Renovations to Twins' spring home approved
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Twins president Dave St. Peter, special assistant to the general manager Bill Smith and chairman Jerry Bell were all on hand to see the proposal get approved by the Lee County Board by a 3-1 vote.
"This is an exciting day for Twins baseball," said Kevin Smith, the Twins' executive director of public affairs. "And not only in Minnesota, but in Florida, because the Spring Training experience will be better a couple of years after these renovations will be made."
With the proposal being approved, the Lee County Sports Complex will receive a major facelift, with most of the project being paid for by a county bond issue. The state of Florida also committed $15 million toward the project.
The Twins will pay $13.8 million under the plan, with most of the cost coming via increased rent and a $3.9 million dormitory paid for by the Twins that would include 55 sleeping rooms for players and staff. The Twins' rent will be increased from $300,000 to $500,000, plus an additional 3 percent every five years of the deal.
The renovations are scheduled to be complete in time for the 2015 season, with construction set to begin in April 2014. The 30-year lease will kick in once the renovations are complete.
With the plan being approved, Hammond Stadium's seating capacity will be expanded from 8,000 to 9,300. The concourses will also be extended with a new outfield boardwalk around the playing field, including a party deck in right field. Additionally, the dimensions of the field will be altered to match those of Target Field.
"I think one of the neat features is adding the boardwalk area in the outfield area, which helps create a 360-degree walk around the facility similar to Target Field," Smith said. "And I think changing the geometry or changing the dimensions to fit Target Field is a neat feature as well."
The concession stands, bathrooms, suites and pressbox areas will also be renovated under the plan, with a new gift shop being added as well.
The clubhouses will also be upgraded, with a new weight room and hydrotherapy area being added. Another Major League practice field will also be added, along with an adjacent agility field.
The Twins have been training at the Lee County Sports Complex since 1991. The Class A Advanced Fort Myers Miracle and Gulf Coast League Twins also play at Hammond Stadium.