Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baseball-to-Orlando Guy's Back; Settles for Consolation Prize?

After getting laughed at publicly by several MLB teams for suggesting he might be able to lure the Brewers or Rays to Orlando, one-time politician Armando Gutierrez is back. Although it seems he has given up on his MLB-to-Orlando crusade and is willing to settle for ANY baseball team there.

WFTV in Orlando first reported that Gutierrez and Orange County were ready to make a major announcement regarding a relocation of the Tampa Yankees, the high-A affiliate of the big club.

The Yankees say things are very preliminary and a new stadium would be required, but Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty told WFTV that he could see building a $15 to $25 million stadium for the team. One baseball insider told me, "$25 million would be a pretty small stadium in Orlando."

WFTV also went a little too far by asking:
Another big question is, if the minor league team moves to Orange County, will the New York Yankees come to Orlando for spring training?
Not only did the Yankees scoff at that notion, but all logic (and the team's current lease with Hillsborough County) indicates that won't be happening this decade.

The big question WFTV may have missed is, "why would Gutierrez or Orange County want to bring the Tampa Yankees to Orlando?" The team is fifth in the Florida State League right now with 1,519 fans per game. While they might be able to fare better in Orlando, Gutierrez may be more satisfied with the potential Yankees fanfare than the financial windfall.

UPDATE: The Yankees released a statement that read, "Reports today that the New York Yankees are considering moving the spring training facility from Tampa are completely erroneous. The Yankees are in very preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a partial sale of their Single-A Tampa minor league affiliate to a potential group of Orange County, Fla., investors. The investors will make an announcement tomorrow."

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