PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte County commissioners unanimously approved emergency repairs to Charlotte Sports Park in hopes of having it ready in time for spring training in 2024.
They also voted to allow the county to build the stadium to a higher standard.
The county entered into a contract with Wharton Smith, Inc. to repair the storm-battered stadium and property. The approval was done on an emergency basis to bypass the typical bidding process and get repairs done faster.
The building, presently unusable, has 32 identified “asset groups,” or components that are separately insured, of which more than 20 sustained damage.
The damages include major infrastructure items such as HVAC equipment, lighting systems and the roof.
“Should we be building this to a higher code?” asked Commissioner Bill Truex, himself a builder.
Truex favored rebuilding the stadium, hardening it against future storms — even if it meant further expense — and perhaps using it as a shelter.
Budget Director Gordon Berger said all repairs are covered and will be fully reimbursed by insurance.
He did not give an estimate of what the repairs will cost, nor did he discuss what a new stadium would cost.
Berger told commissioners the “good news” is that the county is well insured and that recently the Florida Legislature agreed to pick up a portion of the deductible the county would have had to pay for other damages.
“We have a great insurance policy — $150 million blanket coverage — and we will not come close to that.”
Berger said that since the county has money in its general fund, he suggested paying for repairs under $20,000 and not wait for FEMA to reimburse it.
“The storm is going to cost us $2 million to $9 million (but) we have to get this county put back together,” he said. “We can’t be held hostage by FEMA.”