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Orange County rejects Yankees farm-team ballpark

Florida State LeagueSaying she had doubts about promises a relocated Tampa Yankees (High Class A; Florida State League) would draw 3,500 fans a game, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs rejected a plan to use county land for a proposed ballpark.

Armando Gutierrez Jr. and Orlando Baseball Ventures had proposed a $47-million ballpark, Yankees museum on 12 acres of land owned by the county. The success of the venture would be assured by the Yankees brand, as Gutierrez and crew estimated 3,500 fans a game would show up for games at the ballpark next to the Orange County Convention on International Drive. Tourist at the convention center would be a big part of the attendance, they predict, with the end result being 400 new jobs.

Jacobs shot down the plan for several reasons: she didn’t think the financial projections were realistic (indeed, the Tampa Yankees draw 1,600 a game, and no team in the history of the Florida State League has drawn 3,500 fan a game), the legality of the land grant was in question (the county requires competitive bidding), and adding more traffic to an area already plague by rush-hour congestion is iffy.

Orlando remains a tempting market for a Florida State League team; depending on how you measure the market, Orlando is the largest market without professional baseball, right alongside Portland, Oregon (Daytona Beach is technically part of the Orlando TV marget). And other larger outfits have been sniffing around the Orlando market for years now, but no one seems able to put together a ballpark deal.

RELATED STORIES: Orlando baseball plan changes; county still not impressed; First look: Proposed Orlando ballpark; Affiliated ball back to Orlando?


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