Back in October it was reported that the Yankees were planning to move their High-A affiliate out of Tampa, Florida nearly 100 miles north and into Ocala, however, just a few months later it appears that the plan has been axed. The organization has pulled their proposal for a new ballpark among signs of division in the Ocala community. The plan had been in motion for awhile and with little movement, it seemed like it was time to pull the plug.
The Ocala City Council voted to suspend the Yankees' agreement to bring their team to the city, as well as take the proposed three-year half-cent sales tax off the ballot for a special vote in April. Those trying to lure the team to Ocala were surprised by the their decision to abandon the project, but believed the lack of clearcut support to be the reason. "'They wanted this to be a unification effort with the community. And it was apparent to them, as it was apparent to me, that really this was becoming more divisive,' said Jay Musleh of the City Council." Now the city is out $300,000, though it still plans to find another way to pay for the $53 million field.
The council decided to put the agreement on a 90-day extension that will automatically expire on April 2, 2014. If a funding source can materialize by then, the council would have to vote on it by the first of the month and then the Yankees can choose whether or not they want to honor the agreement. "In essence, it keeps the deal on life support until April 2, until somebody can come up with a funding mechanism," [Assistant City Attorney W. James Gooding III] said.
Still, it seems the project is all but dead, at least as far as the Yankees' involvement is concerned. The Tampa Yankees would have played in Ocala by the 2016 season, but right now it looks like they'll stay where they are, in George M. Steinbrenner Field, for the next few years.
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