Organized Minor League Baseball might be returning to Orlando, as businessman Armando Gutierrez Jr. is taking with the New York Yankees about moving the Tampa Yankees (High Class A; Florida State League) to a site out near the city’s theme parks — but the plan is very far from firm.
Gutierrez’s plan relies on receiving free land from Orange County at the corner of the Beeline (OK, the BeachLine) and International Drive (specifically, southwest of that intersection), near the Orlando Convention Center, Seaworld and I-4, as well as some other government assistance to build a baseball-themed museum as part of the ballpark complex. Gutierrez is the latest in a long line of team owners and investors who have explored bringing an affiliated team back to Orlando and away from Disney’s Champion Stadium, a union shop. The owners of the Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) have explored ballpark options in the region, Ripken Baseball has looked at a new ballpark in the International Drive area as well, and other investors were hoping the city would include a new ballpark as part of the Amway Arena redevelopment set to take place next year. The lack of any public funds from the city or Orange County has hindered these efforts.
So count us a little pessimistic about the prospect of affiliated ball returning any time soon, especially a ballpark located next to a freeway that’s pure gridlock between 4 and 7 p.m.; access a ballpark at this location would be utterly horrific for the locals. Free land does sometimes does carry a high price, and in this case such a terrible location could be a high price indeed. We are pretty confident someone will figure out how to bring affiliated ball back to Orlando, but this plan doesn’t strike us as being particularly feasible.
As an addendum, the New York Yankees spring operations would remain in Tampa, no matter what happens to the Tampa Yankees.
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