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Yanks scheduled to bat Tuesday

The New York Yankees representatives are scheduled to appear at the County Commission meeting Tuesday, and commissioners want to know then and there whether the team will move its spring training and minor league operations to East Pasco.

The Yankees, who have been discussing moving their spring training camp to Pasco since last summer, were supposed to give commissioners a yes-or-no answer on their relocation plans Jan. 15, but they got a one-month extension.

As of late Friday, the team had not given county officials any strong hints about what its decision might be. County Administrator John Gallagher said his last contact with the team came last week.

"Basically, (they said) that they're still out there crunching numbers," Gallagher said.

County officials expect team representatives to give their answer at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City.

Under the proposal, landing the Yankees would force the county to use all of the revenue from its tourist development tax for 20 years.

With the Concourse Council and other groups seeking some of the tourist tax for their activities, commissioners have said the Yankees must make a decision soon so the county can do something with the tax revenue.

Pasco's offer to the Yankees assumes that the county would put up about $9.4-million of the $13.9-million needed to build the proposed baseball complex. As discussed, the facilities would include an 8,000-seat stadium, two major league practice fields, four minor league practice fields, two infield practice areas, concessions, a minor league locker room and parking.

The county's offer assumes that several crucial events will take place.

First, the County Commission must vote at least 4-1 to amend its tourist development plan to build the stadium and related facilities. Anything less than a four-fifths majority would not change the plan.

Commissioners also would have to allocate all the revenue from the tourist tax, which adds 2 percent to the price of hotel rooms and other short-term lodgings, plus raise the tax to 3 percent. By committing that revenue for 20 years, the county could sell and then repay $8.61-million to finance the baseball complex.

Finally, the county's offer assumes that East Pasco landowner Henry Douglas still will agree to donate about 100 acres at the northwest corner of Interstate 75 and State Road 52 to the county for the complex. That donation would hinge on the Yankees' agreeing to buy another 40 acres for up to $11,000 per acre.

In return, the county's offer assumes that the Yankees would maintain the complex at their own expense. The team also would have to agree to pay the county rent of up to 10 percent of the annual debt service. As now estimated, that 10 percent payment would equal $77,000 per year.

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