LEE COUNTY — The official airline of the Boston Red Sox is now the official name of the team's new $75 million spring training facility.
On Tuesday, Jet Blue announced it had purchased the naming rights to the new stadium, now called JetBlue Park, which broke ground off Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers earlier this month. The partnership between JetBlue Airlines, the Red Sox, and Lee County will bring about $1 million to county coffers over the next eight years.
“This announcement demonstrates the commitment that both the Red Sox and JetBlue have shown to our community so consistently,” said Lee County Commissioner, Ray Judah. “They have been our partners in the truest sense throughout their tenure in Lee. And their responsible stewardship of this important project will help to make the new stadium a facility that we can all enjoy and be proud of.”
Also revealed during the announcement, which came in front of the media and a handful of devoted Red Sox fans at the Southwest Florida Airport were the latest renderings of stadium which is scheduled for completion in January, 2012. The facility, which has been designed as nearly an exact replica of Boston’s famous Fenway Park, will hold 11,000 fans and boasts six lighted practice fields that will also be available for use by the county’s youth sports programs.
A new hotel, shopping center and restaurants are also planned as part of the 80-acre development.
Red Sox fans Jason Hatfield and Karen Piantek are looking forward to the new complex already. The couple came to Fort Myers from Boston to watch some of the spring training games, and are already planning to come back for the opening games at the Jet Blue Park complex.
“Right now, the ball park is in a residential area, so there’s not much to do before or after games,” says Hatfield who sports a bold Red Sox tattoo on his calf. “The new facility is going to be great. It’s going to draw a lot of fans to the area.”
Sam Kennedy, JetBlue’s chief operating officer, said the partnership between his company, and the Red Sox is a natural one.
“Both are widely popular in both Boston and Southwest Florida and work together seamlessly to support the local community,” he said, adding that this is the airline’s first naming opportunity.
“It’s a project we’re very proud to be a part of,” he said.