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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Report: Tampa Yankees' proposed move to Ocala is on hold until April



A plan to move the New York Yankees' Class A Advanced minor league team from Tampa to a new stadium in Marion County is on hold until April, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.

The newspaper reported that the Ocala City Council on Monday voted to suspend the talks in response to a request from the team. Ocala officials also plan to ask the Marion County Commission to cancel a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Marion commissioners are scheduled on Tuesday to discuss whether to schedule a referendum to raise that county's sales tax and use the proceeds to build a $60 million stadium complex. Officials in Ocala and Marion County have talked about asking their voters to raise the sales tax by half a cent for three years, but last month county officials said they first wanted to look at other potential sources of funding before going to a tax increase.

The planned move was announced in October. Last year, the Tampa Yankees drew 118,770 fans to George M. Steinbrenner Field on N Dale Mabry Highway. That was an average of 1,827 fans per game, — the fourth-best attendance in the 12-team Florida State League.

In Tampa, however, the team finds itself competing with the Tampa Bay Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning, pluas the University of South Florida football, Busch Gardens and the gulf beaches. In Ocala, officials have said the team would be a bigger attraction in a smaller sports market, and would be expected to have a fan base of retirees extending to Citrus County, the Villages and Gainesville.

[Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 2:17pm]


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