Fort Myers, FL
Review by Gary
Hammond Stadium is the centerpiece of the Lee County Sports Complex, surrounded by no less than eleven baseball and softball diamonds. The rows of parking are all named for Minnesota Twins greats of years past. A majestic walkway lined with palm trees bisects the parking lot and leads to a beautiful waterfall in front of the home plate entrance, an approach to make you feel like Florida royalty.
Since 1991, this Fort Myers multiplex has been the Spring Training home to the Twins and two of their farm teams; the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (great team name and logo!) of the Florida State League and the Gulf Coast League Twins. The Twins moved to Hammond Stadium after 53 springs at Orlando’s Tinker Field, having taken up residence there when they were the Washington Senators. The Twins won the 1991 World Series following their first spring training at Hammond.
The stadium underwent renovations in 2014 and again in 2015. Notable improvements included expanding the seating capacity from 7,500 to 9,300, adding more walkability around the entire ballpark, increased shaded areas, an expanded gift shop and other spiffy amenities for both fans and ballplayers.
On the sunny spring day that we visited, we were welcomed by a bevy of very friendly folks who chatted with us about their hometowns (printed on their nametags), their beloved Twins, our beloved Mets, and this beautiful stadium. From the gift shop staff to the gate attendants to the ushers inside, we encountered only smiling faces. We were able to watch Twins players and prospects practice on the adjoining practice fields before the main stadium opened. It was free admission on this day to watch two college teams from Minnesota play while the big club was on the road.
The concourse above the main seating area is lined with banners of former Twins stars while the press box is adorned with pennants celebrating all Senators and Twins post-season appearances. The stadium is beautifully appointed inside and out. The exterior is done in white and brings to mind a Mississippi River Paddle-wheeler, while inside everything is open and airy. The large seating bowl is split in the middle with a walkway and remains intimate despite the large capacity. The upper concourse above the seats on the 1st and 3rd base sides are covered and provide great views of the field. The dark green seats and white accents give it a clean, striking look that is very appealing to the eye.
We sampled a Harmon Kille-Brew Root Beer and hearty beef hot dogs before continuing on to our next baseball destination just down the road a piece. We would like to offer another shout out to the Twins’ staff, including Tony Nazzaro, who made us feel very welcome and free to explore this lovely Florida ballpark on a lazy spring morning.