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NFM Civic Association: Softball fields continuing NFM need
April 17, 2019

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Fields of Dreams, that is what the situation seems to be when asking about Softball Fields for our residents of North Fort Myers.

For the past several years the question that seems to pop up the most at the annual North Fort Myers Town Hall Meeting is that of when North Fort Myers will get a Softball Complex of our own.

The same question was brought up again at our recent 2019 Town Hall meeting and the answer was still the same, it is not in this year's or any foreseeable year's county budget.

North Fort Myers residents have been asking for a Softball Complex in North Fort Myers for many years.

It's time North Fort Myers deserves a recreational Softball Complex to call our own.

North Fort Myers residents have to travel several miles to either Fort Myers, South Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, and even Port Charlotte to enjoy the game they love.

There are currently 17 recreational softball fields in the City of Cape Coral alone, but none in North Fort Myers. That, in itself, speaks volumes.

Softball is a game enjoyed by many in our community.

Players both male and female of all ages from all over North Fort Myers participate in various leagues during weekdays, weekday nights, and weekends outside of our community.

Senior residents in our north area have vibrant leagues that have been established for many years and they play against each other's communities. These teams, all from North Fort Myers, play at fields located 26 miles away at a community park in Port Charlotte in Charlotte County.

There are also the many supporters that attend these games and make the 26-mile one-way trek in support of their team, and they travel multiple times within a week's period.

All in all, our residents may travel in the range of 200 miles a week to play or watch a game of softball due to the absence of fields in our community.

In April of 2017 the Lee County Sports Development Authority stated in a 175-page report regarding the impact of sports in Lee County, that baseball and softball make up over 50 percent of the sports revenue for Lee County. The report states that baseball/softball brings in over $36 million of economic impact for Lee County. Most of this impact being for lodging and food.

Just think what a Softball Complex in North Fort Myers could not only do for our residents, but for the North Fort Myers revitalization efforts as well.

By having the opportunity to host tournaments and have sustained year-round league play at a complex in North Fort Myers it could bring in generated revenue for North Fort Myers, and also keep dollars here in North Fort Myers instead of going to Charlotte County or elsewhere.

We can also make North Fort Myers a destination for visiting teams and their supporters as well.

Thus, the need for more lodging and restaurants in North Fort Myers could arise, which is always favorable for a revitalization effort.

This would be a win-win for our community.

Members of the North Fort Myers Civic Association met recently with Lee County Parks and Recreation Director Jesse Lavender to address the issue of a Softball Complex for North Fort Myers and the positive effects a Softball Complex would have for our community. Director Lavender stated he would look seriously into our request by authorizing an impact study and following up with us regarding this issue.

In the mean time, we may want to look at outside the box ideas that could help North Fort Myers obtain a Softball Complex, within the near distant future. The donation of private land for a complex in North Fort Myers could be a start. This could spearhead the process in a community-county partnership.

A privately-owned sports complex could also be an option.

In Houston, Texas, for example, there are several privately owned softball complexes which also include sports bars and restaurants at the venue along with game rooms and family-oriented activities.

This could be a first of its kind for Lee County and would be a major attraction and draw for North Fort Myers.

Maybe, we could get revitalization, and sports economic dollars to assist in this type venture as well.

These are just a couple of ideas that come to mind.

North Fort Myers has never been more primed and ready to have a Softball Complex to call our own.

Now all that needs to happen is to "Build it and they will come."

- Doug Dailey is the president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association

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