BONITA SPRINGS — The firm that built the Lee County Sports Complex and the company that’s building the new Yankee Stadium both made the short list of teams competing for the opportunity to oversee constructing the new Red Sox stadium in south Lee County.
A selection committee eliminated four of the 10 companies that applied to run the job, a project expected to cost anywhere from $50 million up. Those that made the cut will make their pitches to the committee Jan. 14.
The winner will manage a project that likely will take until 2012 or longer to finish and could pay them $3 million.
The county hires construction managers to be their eyes and ears on major projects from the first step of design through final inspection. The Red Sox want to move into their new mini-Fenway in 2012, the year of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park in Boston.
A county selection committee that includes Red Sox Florida director Todd Stephenson said Major League Baseball stadium experience and a local connection were and are critical factors.
“The first thing I looked for was experience with major league baseball,” project manager Bob Taylor said Tuesday. “And local participation is huge.” The short-listed firms are:
Balfour Beatty/Lodge Construction; Case Contracting Co.; Gates Butz Institutional Construction; Hunt/OAK Joint Venture; Kraft Construction; and Turner Construction.
Case built Hammond Stadium and the Lee County Sports Complex. Turner is building the new Yankee Stadium, scheduled to open this spring.
The others are no lightweights.
“We’ve got quality, quality firms here,” said public works director Jim Lavender.
The county has now short-listed firms for designing the new spring training complex and for construction management. The same committee, Stephenson, Taylor, Lavender and deputy county manager Bill Hammond, is mulling potential locations as well.
The process now moves to the next step. That will come next week when the short-listed firms make presentations to the committee.
“I think the next round will probably be the most interesting round,” Hammond said.
Stephenson said that he’s had help with his selections, help as high up the Red Sox team ladder as President and CEO Larry Lucchino.
And when the next round starts he’ll have help then, too. He said team CEO Mike Dee and Janet Marie Smith, senior vice president for planning and development, will both attend the next round of meetings.
Earlier Tuesday, the Red Sox were a discussion topic at a Business People United for Political Action Committee, or BUPAC, meeting.
Lee Sports Authority director Jeff Mielke told BUPAC members that the county is becoming what Phoenix is to spring training baseball out west.
Virtually the entire Cactus League — the name of the spring training league in Arizona — is located in metropolitan Phoenix. With the Red Sox and Twins in Lee County and the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays in Charlotte County, Southwest Florida is becoming the center of the Grapefruit League, he said.
With the Red Sox leaving for south Lee in 2012 or 2013 county efforts are trained on finding a new team - the county’s third - for City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.
“Certainly we can have conversations with Baltimore or whoever else,” Mielke said.
In fact the county - in the person of baseball consultant John Yarbrough - has already talked to the Baltimore Orioles, thought to be leaving their current home in Fort Lauderdale.
Yarbrough said he’s spoken to another team, too, but wouldn’t say which one. He said the county is really in no rush, with the Sox not moving until at least 2012. Landing a new team could mean two sharing City of Palms, he said, which is sure to mean expensive additions to accommodate two teams. Ideally the county will have a team ready to move in when the Sox move out.
“I have had conversations with more than one team that thinks City of Palms is ready to go,” Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough and Mielke both spoke to members of the county’s oldest political action committee, BUPAC.