Yankees Project to Relocate to Ocala is On Hold
OCALA- It feels like two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the plan to lure a minor league baseball team to Ocala. Ocala city officials and Tampa Yankees representatives made a decision that puts "Project Home Run" in jeopardy. On Monday morning the Ocala City Council received a letter from Anthony Bruno, who is the Senior Vice President of Yankee Global Enterprises. In the letter, Bruno requests the city council suspend the current proposal.
"We have decided that it is in the best interest of the Yankees and, we believe, Ocala and Marion County, that the current proposal be withdrawn,” read Ocala City council President John McLeod.
After two years in the works and nearly $300,000 invested in “Project Home Run”, there's a chance the Tampa Yankees will not relocate to Ocala.
On Monday, Ocala City Council President McLeod read aloud a letter from Tampa Yankees representative Bruno.
The news comes one day before Marion County commissioners are scheduled to vote on placing a one half cent sales tax proposal on a referendum to fund the minor league baseball stadium.
"Their indication to me was they didn't want to see the community torn apart by the referendum over them. They wanted to bring the community together. Just like their letter said,” said McLeod.
In a four to zero vote, with Councilwoman Mary Sue Rich absent, the council accepted the Yankees request.
Many residents have spoken out against spending nearly $53 million on a baseball stadium.
"If they want to as a multi-million dollar corporation pay for a stadium, that's fine with me. But not at public expense,” said Millie Grisson who is a resident.
The new agreement allows the city and the Yankees to back out at any time during the 90 days.
"As their letter indicated this project was actually dividing the community rather than unifying the community. So I think to allow the project to soft landing and give 90days to figure out if there is another way to fund it. If not then the project will most likely be terminated,” said Councilman Jay Musleh.
On Tuesday President McLeod will ask Marion County commissioners to cancel the proposed public hearing regarding the stadium tax referendum. The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 am.
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