The next hurdle for a proposed Tampa Yankees (High Class A; Florida State League) ballpark in Ocala: a sales tax to fund the facility, which much be approved by Marion County.
Ocala officials want to institute a half-cent sales tax to fund the ballark and development in the surrounding area. The ballpark would cost $38 million; the entire development, including land acquisition, would be $60 million. The city would borrow the money to build the ballpark and pay it back from sales-tax receipts, ticket surcharges and rent. The Yankees would also have an option to develop 10 acres adjacent to the ballpark. From Ocala.com:
Under an agreement presented to the City Council, the proposed stadium, located between Interstate 75 and State Road 200 behind the Market Street at Heath Brook shopping center, would be leased to the Yankees for 25 years, with three 10-year renewal options.
The stadium is estimated to cost $60 million, which includes land purchase, infrastructure and constructing a 4,000-seat stadium. The stadium would have a maximum capacity of 6,000 attendees, with the additional seating provided by grass berms.
This is not a sure deal: Marion County is a fairly conservative area, and while the tax wouldn’t apply to the entire county, there’s still enough anti-tax sentiment in areas like The Villages to disrupt the process. In addition, the county would actually own the ballpark — and thus, ultimately, be responsible for it in a legal sense. That the political mood in much of Marion County is conservative is an understatement (remember the video of Mitt Romney crooning America the Beautiful during the recent presidential election? That video was shot in The Villages, a reliable fundraising stop for Romney), and there surely will be some residents opposing the county ownership of a ballpark in Ocala.
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