Tampa Yankees May Relocate to Ocala
Just the thought of having a sports team in Ocala gives residents like Deborah Tidwell something to look forward to.
"It's going to have a sports in the county that we live in so we don't have to travel so far like to Gainesville or elsewhere to see sports activities," said Tidwell.
Last week, city officials announced that they and the New York Yankees are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of the Tampa Yankees relocating to Ocala.
City manager Matthew Brower said it's too early to determine if it'll happen, but he feels there is a good reason why ocala is the perfect place.
"The Tampa Yankees are a very small fish in a very big ocean. There you've got spring training, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, you got Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you got Lightning,you got USF. So you got a lot of competition there. Here they'd be a really big fish in a small ocean," said Brower.
Since the nearest professional sports team is about an hour and a half away.
Brower said bringing over the Tampa Yankees means more jobs for residents.
"It be a great economic development tool for our community. It'll put us on the map that will hopefully create additional investment," said Brower.
There is one major concern; the cost of building a stadium.
"Not knowing what they field is going to look like, where it's going to be located, how the stadium is going to be. It's still just a little bit early yet to figure out what the costs is going to be, let alone figure out how to fund it," said Brower.
He said some options are a sales tax referendum or user fees.
Last time the Yankees tried building a spring training facility in Ocala, voters didn't want to pay more, but this may be a second chance....
Sports fans like Tidwell would pay more, if it's going to guarantee a chance to watch some baseball here.
"Ya I think we will because it's local. It's so easy to go to it, get the tickets and go and enjoy it live," said Tidwell.
The decision comes down to the city of Ocala, major and minor league baseball associations and the New York Yankees.
Citizens will have a say, depending on how the stadium will be funded.
Bower said expect big decisions to be made this winter.
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