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Twins laud longtime partnership with Lee County

By Staff | Feb 24, 2009

During the Minnesota Twins’ annual Media Day gathering at Hammond Stadium on Monday, team Senior Vice President and General Manager Bill Smith said that other Major League Baseball teams are “jealous” of his club’s longtime partnership with Lee County.

“They’ve treated us like world champs after we’ve won the World Series, and they’ve treated us like world champs when we finished in the bottom half of the division,” said Smith. “We’re thrilled to be a part of your community.”

Smith welcomed local and nation press affiliates to the luncheon, along with several Lee County Commissioners and members of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. During his remarks, Smith noted that Spring Training 2009 with be the team’s 19th in Lee County and that for the eighth consecutive year, local residents and tourists have purchased more than 100,000 tickets for Twins exhibition games in Fort Myers.

“We know that we’re in a tough economy,” he said. “But we hope to bring some energy and enthusiasm.”

Minnesota’s spring schedule, which kicked off on Wednesday evening with the traditional tilt against the cross-town rival Boston Red Sox, features 18 home games during February, March and April including:

Friday, Feb. 27 vs. Yankees at 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 1 vs. Red Sox at 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 3 vs. Puerto Rico (WBC) at 1:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 5 vs. Netherlands (WBC) at 2:05 p.m.

Friday, March 6 vs. Reds at 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 7 vs. Pirates at 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 13 vs. Reds at 7:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 14 vs. Marlins at 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 16 vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 20 vs. Yankees at 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 22 vs. Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 23 vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 27 vs. Rays at 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 29 vs. Cardinals at 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 30 vs. Rays at 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 31 vs. Pirates at 1:05 p.m.

Thursday, April 2 vs. Red Sox at 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, April 4 vs. Pirates at 1:05 p.m.

Prior to the start of Media Day, Commissioner Bob Janes reported that talks between Lee County official and representatives from the Baltimore Orioles were “still ongoing,” and that he thought adding a third spring training team – along with the Twins and Red Sox – would be a great benefit to the local economy.

“Any way that we can bring in more tourists, I think would be a great thing for us,” said Janes, who attended the event along with fellow commissioners Ray Judah and Frank Mann. “We’ll just have to see how things go.”

Smith agreed with Janes’ optimism for bringing the Orioles to Fort Myers, filling the vacancy at City of Palms Park created by Boston, who struck a deal to have a new facility built in Lee County.

“We think whatever’s good for Lee County is usually good for the Twins,” said Smith.

Janes, a resident of Sanibel, also commented on the status of adding a fishing pier along the 2.7-mile causeway.

“Right now, I think we’ve put that on the backburner,” he added. “We just ran out of money (for new projects this year).”