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Pasco study targets plan for replica pro baseball fields

NEW PORT RICHEY — Taking a baby step toward a mini Yankee Stadium, Pasco County officials will pursue a 90-day study on building a sports complex of replica baseball fields, starting with talks today with the developer.

This week's decision by top county officials follows a secret visit by county staffers to similar sites in California, although two months have passed without talks with the builder. A conference call is expected today with officials with Big League Dreams, the California company that would operate the complex, said Michele Baker, chief assistant county administrator.

The county and company still must settle on a consulting contract and a price. Under the company's proposal, Pasco would pay Big League Dreams $90,000 and have three months to study and make a decision whether to continue. But Baker said the county wants to negotiate down the cost, equating it to the sticker price on a car.

The complex, which would cost about $30-million, would have smaller versions of iconic professional baseball stadiums, and county officials are interested in building an enclosed pavilion for other events and sports. Pasco wants to bring tournaments to encourage more tourism, plus free up crowded parks.

Money from tourism taxes and new fees on construction would pay for building the park, but the company would operate it.

Once a deal is set, the company would study potential locations, and possible size and design of a proposed complex.

Meanwhile, County Commissioner Michael Cox and Baker said top Pasco officials expect to make an announced visit to see the company's operations in November.

In the initial 90 days, Big League Dreams consultant Pat Kight said the company would analyze the potential market for events, costs to build and operate the complex and a preliminary design, largely based off its nine existing complexes elsewhere. It would be the company's first one in Florida.

The company, Kight said, thinks Pasco is "more than viable … it's a great market."

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

Pasco study targets plan for replica pro baseball fields 09/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:22pm]
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