Red Sox fans eager to see retail center at JetBlue Park
Boston Herald (MA), 2014-02-21
Feb. 21--Now in their third season at JetBlue Park, the Red Sox have yet to set a timetable for turning an adjacent 20 acres into a Patriot Place-like lifestyle center, but fans think such plans would be a home run for Fenway South.
In addition to improving the fan experience at the Fort Myers, Fla., spring training facility, an expansion would be great for the area, which is rebounding from a real estate crash, according to Needham native Robert Burke, who's lived in Fort Myers for a decade.
"There's nothing here in Fort Myers on this corridor -- that's why this is such a great idea," he said. "You go to Gulf Coast Town Center right now (one exit south on I-75), it's super-packed."
The Sox paid $5.5 million for the parcel in 2009 to "eventually develop it similar to Patriot Place," said Katie Haas, the team's senior director of Florida business operations. "But in terms of specifics, we don't have any, nor do we have a timeline."
The Kraft Group's Patriot Place is a 1.3 million-square-foot center with shops, eateries, entertainment and a hotel that opened in 2007 next to Foxboro's Gillette Stadium at a cost of $350 million.
Rick Gentilman, an Acton engineering manager who has been traveling to Fort Myers for the past six years or so, believes a similar complex next to JetBlue Park would be a year-round hit. "I think there'd be a real demand for it," he said. "There's not a lot in this area, not a lot of amenities."
The Red Sox now use the land for concession tents and parking during spring training.
The land also is programmed with events including fairs, RV shows and farmers' markets.
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