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Tampa Yankees on verge of move to Ocala

Florida State LeagueThe Tampa Yankees (High Class A; Florida State League) could be headed north to Ocala if a new ballpark is approved by the Ocala City Council.

A proposed $45-million ballpark/entertainment complex is on the agenda for Tuesday’s workshop meeting. No action is scheduled for Tuesday; instead, the agenda will feature an explanation of the proposed ballpark and the agreement with the Yankees. The city and the Yankees have already agreed on the terms of new-ballpark financing based on a half-cent sales tax, which would need to be approved by voters in next spring’s elections (which is far from a sure thing), provided the county approves the referendum as well. If passed, the new ballpark would open for the 2016 season.

Ocala officials say they expect the team to be a regional draw, bringing in folks from The Villages and other surrounding communities. The Florida State League and MiLB have not yet signed off on a potential move: Ocala is a little bit off the existing FSL footprint, but there’s easy access to the city via I-75 and the Florida Turnpike.

The Steinbrenners have strong ties to the Ocala area via their ownership of a large horse-breeding spread, and they’ve been looking to move the T-Yankees for several years now. This isn’t the first time the Yankees have looked at a move to Ocala; the late George Steinbrenner pushed for such a move and enlisted the likes of John Travolta to invest in a project.

The move would not affect the MLB team’s spring training at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

RELATED STORIES: Ocala, Tampa Yankees talking new ballpark


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