Red Sox Colony

By Jason Schwartz | Boston Magazine |

When the Red Sox decided a few years back that they wanted a new spring-training stadium, the message to their Florida home, Lee County, was clear: If you build it, we will stay. Otherwise, Sarasota is waiting on line two. Faced with losing a Nation-sized cash cow, the county paid the team’s ransom, and is currently at work on an expensive replacement baseball complex. So barring construction problems, this is the Sox’s final spring schedule at City of Palms Park — which, by the way, is less than 20 years old. When the new field opens in 2012 it’ll definitely be a sweet deal for John Henry and company, who will pay an annual rent of just $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) for the next 30 years. Did Lee County — where unemployment hovers around 13 percent — get swindled? Let’s take a look.

$77.5 million  Cost to build stadium

Sox subsidy
$56.40  Average amount a Red Sox fan spends at each game.
$110.77 Average amount a Red Sox fan spends in the county daily.
13.6  Average number of days a Red Sox fan stays in Lee County.

Sox-related employment
396  Jobs (mostly in construction) created by the building of the new stadium.
486  Jobs already supported by the presence of Red Sox fans in Lee County each spring.

$24 million Total annual spending by Red Sox fans in Lee County

The verdict  University of South Florida business professor Sean Lux, for one, approves of Lee County’s decision. “You’re throwing the development industry a lifeline,” he says. “Fort Myers and Naples are two of the hardest-hit areas in the state.” In other words, Lee County struck a good deal for itself. Now if we could just get it to pay for renovations around Fenway….

Sources: Studies by Florida Gulf Coast University economist Gary Jackson and research firm Davidson-Peterson Associates, commissioned by Lee County, Florida

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