Yankees minor league team considering moving from Tampa to Ocala

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Ocala City Council members will consider an agreement that could move the New York Yankees minor league team to town.

The deal, to be presented at a city workshop Tuesday, comes nearly a year after city officials announced discussions with the team to move the Class A Advanced affiliate minor league team from Tampa to Ocala, reports Susan Latham Carr for The Ocala StarBanner.

Part of the proposal will be a stadium complex that includes an entertainment venue.

“The meeting next week is simply to wheel the project out to the public’s eyes for the first time,” City Manager Matthew Brower told the StarBanner. “No action will be taken. We will give a total overview of the project.”

The city had hired a consultant to work on the project, which took over 2 years to develop.

City Council President Mary Rich said the cost for the Yankees’ move to Ocala would not be unreasonable, and could be costly, but the benefits for the city are worth it.

“You know, to build a stadium, it’s going to be expensive, Rich said. “But I don’t know exactly what they are asking of us … I do know the county has to own the property. That is state law. So they have to be involved, too.”

The project could be paid for with a half-percent sales tax for as long as five years, to produce the nearly $85 million needed to build the stadium. Any additional taxes must be ratified by a referendum, after approval by the Marion County Commission, so voters would have the final say.

The measure also has needs approval by the Florida State League, Minor League and Major League Baseball. If any of those groups believe Ocala is too far away for other teams to travel, they can also reject the deal.  

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn tells the StarBanner that if everything goes well, the stadium could be operational by 2016.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.