PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - On a Monday afternoon, thousands have come to see the sights and sounds of spring training at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.
Paul Taglieri is Director of Florida Operations for the New York Mets.
"You feel the energy inside the stadium and around the community," he said.
Taglieri has lived on the Treasure Coast for more than a decade and knows that the Mets mean millions for the area.
"Our staff size bumps up. You see it when you go to local restaurants, hotels and gas stations."
But talk this baseball offseason hasn't been of the new acquistions as much as what might be sold off. The team owners have said they are willing to sell part of the ballclub to recoup losses they claimed were at the hands of Bernie Madoff. When they first arrived for spring training earlier this month, Mets officials said they're trying to keep the Madoff situation separate from what happens on the field.
"This is an ownership issue, it's a Sterling Equities issue. This has nothing to do with what goes on here," Jeff Wilpon told reporters back on February 16th.
So what do average Mets fans think about the Madoff situation? Are they more concerned about Bernie or (Carlos) Beltran??
"As a spectator, I'd say we're more concerned on the field," said Bonnie Raycroft of Delray Beach.
After a few strong years just missing out on the NL East title, the Mets 2010 season was not what fans wanted.
"In New York, you've got to win now.. you need a big checkbook," said Bob Gallagher of Queens.
"I really hope people can focus more attention to baseball aspect. Madoff's in jail, that's where he needs to be," said Jerry Smith of Stuart.
Fans are hoping to find a (Jose) "Reyes" of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy spring.
"I'll take the team at its word that this isn't hurting them financially in the long run. Bay has a comeback year, Beltran a comeback year... let's go Mets in 2011," said Steve Trilivas, a Mets fans from Queens.
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