All Things Travel: Spring Training Business

By Bob Weiss
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(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

FT. MYERS FL. (CBS) – Under the stands at the new JetBlue Park where the Red Sox are now training, a couple of old-fashion promotions are getting a tryout.

The Boston Globe, now owned by Red Sox owner John Henry, started printing an edition of the paper in Ft. Myers and is taking subscriptions. At a table nearby, Realty Executives of Cape Cod is signing up people to consider buying a condo in Heritage Sands in Dennisport.

Both new ideas are aimed directly at the thousands of Massachusetts people who are coming to South Florida in the winter, or have moved south permanently.

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

JetBlue knew exactly what they were doing when they named the Red Sox park after the airline. Last month they doubled their seasonal non-stop flights from Logan Airport to Ft. Myers to eight flights a day through the spring.

The Globe started printing in Florida this week and is committed to year-around editions. During the winter the press run will be 10,000 that will be reduced to less than half that number in the summer.

The print edition here will sell for a dollar, $0.25 less than in Boston.

Oh yes, the Sox lost their home opener 8-2, against the Minnesota Twins who also train in Ft. Myers before a sell-out crowd of over 10,000.

Everybody drives to the game with plenty of parking. The cost is $10 a vehicle and tailgating is not allowed. That adds up to the salary of a good starting lineup player with 15 Major League home games.

On a sunny afternoon, they are selling beer in the stands at Fenway South at $7 a bottle. At the major concession stand, you can buy a New England style lobster roll.

Then there is the Red Sox Store doing very good business selling team merchandise, with six registers open after the game.

Near the Press Box, you run into Sue Hilton and her husband who own WKTJ in Farmington, Maine. Their station is the longest continuous radio station broadcasting Red Sox games, going back 53 years to 1961.

You ask the friendly JetBlue Park staff member where the name “Grapefruit League” came from? He is not sure, but thinks it originated with Tampa Mayor Al Lang who helped bring the New York Yankees south in 1923, over 90 years ago.

There is no question that spring training has helped the economy of Florida grow.

All Things Travel Reports can be heard on WBZ New Radio.

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