MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have deep, deep roots in the Southwest Florida community, forged by 32 seasons of headquartering their Minor League operations and Spring Training camps in Fort Myers. They watched with great concern as Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Fort Myers area as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, causing widespread flooding and destruction still being uncovered in the greater metropolitan area.
According to Minnesota president and CEO Dave St. Peter, the current belief is that all affiliated with the Twins are safe and accounted for, with “moderate wind damage” and “limited water damage” sustained at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. But their thoughts remain with all those in the Lee County and Southwest Florida areas as the rebuilding process begins, with St. Peter indicating that the club will announce further support to the area in the weeks to come.
“I will say that moving forward, our focus will be on how we can support not only our people, but that part of Florida,” St. Peter said. “It’s been a big part of Twins Territory for more than 30 years, and we’ll lean into efforts to help people there in the days and weeks to come. So that will be our focus here going forward. More to come on that soon.”
The Twins evacuated players and personnel from the complex to their homes or to safe locations ahead of the hurricane’s impact, and, in partnership with Lee County, are making their facility available as a staging area for first responders -- including their Minor League academy complex, which includes dormitories and resources typically meant to house younger, developmental players throughout the year.
“That’s the beauty of our academy,” St. Peter said. “When we built our academy, we always talked about public use. That was a public-private partnership. We paid for part of it. The county paid for part of it. … The academy is uniquely suited to provide sleeping, nutrition. It’s a real plus for the county when they get in these types of situations.”
The Twins have not yet had a chance to evaluate the full extent of the damage to the facility in detail, St. Peter said, but the club believes that it was largely spared of the storm surge because it’s relatively far inland from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Photos provided to the media showed damage to the batting cages at Hammond Stadium, felled trees and cosmetic damage to buildings. St. Peter also said the Twins had lost some dugouts and batter’s eyes from playing fields.
He also acknowledged that the “big unknown” would involve a more detailed analysis to determine if the complex, which was constructed in 1991 and renovated in 2015, has sustained any structural damage as a result of the storm. St. Peter said it’s unclear when baseball operations will resume at the facility.
“We have to assess that,” St. Peter said. “That's not our priority right now. We'll get through the next few days, maybe the next few weeks, and then determine when we could resume some form of normal baseball operation there. But that's not our priority right now.”