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County vote on new Yankees ballpark delayed

Proposed Ocala ballpark

A decision on a sales tax to fund a new Tampa Yankees (High Class A; Florida State League) ballpark has been delayed as Marion County searches for an alternative funding source.

The proposal would put the issue of a half-cent sales-tax hike to referendum by Marion County voters; the proceeds would be used for a new $60-million Yankees ballpark in Ocala, Florida. But it’s not clear whether voters in a highly conservative part of Florida would vote to approve such a tax hike, and commissioners decided to put off a decision until Jan. 7, 2014. From

Commission Chairman Carl Zalak said county, city and private officials need time to vet other options — specifically non-tax options — for funding a minor league baseball stadium for the New York Yankees.

“This few extra weeks will allow us to further vet the project,” Commissioner Kathy Bryant said.

The current plan: The ballpark would cost $38 million; the entire development, including land acquisition, would cost $60 million. The city would borrow the money to build the ballpark and pay it back from sales-tax receipts, ticket surcharges and rent. As we noted, passage of the referendum is far from certain: Marion County is a pretty conservative area, and it includes a portion of The Villages, the retirement community known for its conservative population. Non-tax options, of course, would include negotiating for more from the Yankees, seeking a developer as a partner or looking to other government bodies for assistance.

RELATED STORIES: Marion County to take up Yankee ballpark funding Tuesday; Next step for new Ocala ballpark: sales-tax approval; Tampa Yankees on verge of move to Ocala; Ocala, Tampa Yankees talking new ballpark


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