PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - As the veterans and the new additions to the 20-12 New York Mets get acclimated, spring training fans will notice the newest additions to Digital Domain Park: A brand new color scoreboard, and a new right field seating area to be filled with concession stands and picnic areas.
Paul Taglieri is the head of the Mets Florida Operations. He's excited about the new amenities. "Complete connectivity whereas in the past if you had a seat in the right field bleachers or on the berm on the hill you couldn't get access to the main stadium."
Last summer, St. Lucie county agreed to rework a bond agreement with the Mets to free up two and a half million dollars in hotel taxes to fund these improvements.
St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky says baseball adds to the county's bottom line. "In general about 20-million dollars in economic opportunity, we have our businesses restaurants and hotels."
As part of the stadium renovation deal the Mets agreed to extend their agreement with the county through 2023.
But while county money was spent to keep the Mets 24 year spring home looking up to date, the team itself is spending a lot less money on its players.
Despite playing in the largest market in the country, the Mets plan to slash payroll from 140 million to 90 million dollars.
Principal owner Fred Wilpon told reporters Monday it has nothing to do with the Bernie Madoff scandal. Mets owners claim they lost hundreds of millions of dollars from Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
Local Mets fans at spring training say spending less might mean losing more.
"Sure it is, you have to, they got rid of Reyes, Beltran and Pagan," said Jim Johnston of Port St. Lucie.
While what happens in New York isn't always tied into the financial future of the Mets on the Treasure coast, there's no question the Treasure Coast wants the Mets to play ball here for many years to come.
"We love St. Lucie County and we look forward to being here for a long time." Taglieri said.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon also said Major League Baseball has approved the sale of some team shares which could bring in up to 240 million dollars in cash.
The Mets owners should know by March 5th whether they will have to go to trial later in the month over allegations they profited in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
That is the opening night of spring training at Digital Domain Park.
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