A new ballpark for the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) has been pitched once again to Winter Park officials, as the team continues to look for a new home in the Orlando area.
We're talking about the beginning of the process here, as the Winter Park City Commission yesterday discussed potential sites for a 3,000-seat, $15-22 million ballpark. It's not the first run at a new ballpark in Winter Park for the Manatees: owner Dr. Tom Winters has also been involved in summer-collegiate ball in the city and has pitched two other ballpark projects there, including an expansion of Alfond Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field, a ballpark owned by Rollins College. (In fact, one of the locations pitched for a new Manatees/Rollins College ballpark was at the Ravaudage development.) It doesn't sound like Rollins College is part of this new pitch. From News 13:
City officials are considering locations at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, the UP Development Votech area along U.S. 17-92 and the Ravaudage development north of Lee Road. The furthest and last option is a former tree farm at the Northwest Sports Complex because of its location to the surrounding area.
Winter Park Mayor Kenneth Bradley said residents will not have any new taxes added to fund the stadium if it gets approved.
“An opportunity like this would increase our tax base and by bringing this much economic development is something we certainly need to take time to study,” Bradley said.
It makes sense for Manatees ownership to search for a new Orlando home. Although technically Daytona Beach is part of the larger MSA, Orlando is considered by most in baseball to be the largest market with no pro baseball; Tucson and Columbia, S.C., don't make the top 50. Winter Park is directly northeast of downtown Orlando and far away from the traffic snarls and tourism found on the I-4 corridor. With the future of Space Coast Stadium in some doubt in coming years, the time to plan for 2017 or so is now.
Right now there's not an acceptable ballpark for Class A ball in Orlando. Tinker Field is in disrepair (in fact, we're surprised it survived the most recent Citrus Bowl renovation plan) and the economics of putting on games at Champion Stadium (Disney runs the place with union labor) makes it not financially feasible
RELATED STORIES: New Winter Park ballpark plan scrapped -- for now; Developer pitches new Winter Park ballpark; Brevard County Manatees, Rollins College discussing new ballpark; Pro baseball an endangered species in Viera; Nats go public with desire for new spring-training facility
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