The stadium price tag (which would host the minor-league team only - Yankees spring training would remain in Tampa) is projected at somewhere around $45 million. The city proposes the county would pay for it using its bed tax revenues if commissioners - and then voters - approve.City Council President Mary Rich said she thinks having a minor league team would be good for Ocala.
"They did a poll," Rich said about the staff. "The poll said the majority of people would like it. I think that's why we went on with it (negotiations)."
Asked about the expense, she said it would not be expensive, but then added, "You know, to build a stadium, it's going to be expensive. But I don't know exactly what they are asking of us ... I do know the county has to own the property. That is state law. So they have to be involved, too."
Ocala may be hungry for a team, but attendance for Florida State League games is routinely the worst of all the big minor leagues. Last year, only two teams in the entire league broke 2,000 fans per game. Hot and humid Florida summer nights don't draw many folks to the ballpark.
Just don't tell that to Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn:
And don't tell councilman John McCloud that 2,000 fans per game don't create 1,000 new jobs:Guinn said having the Yankees would bring jobs, not only for baseball itself, but he said he believes other companies will locate in Ocala.
And it could attract people driving by who could see the stadium from Interstate 75. He said a site being considered is behind the Heath Brook development.
Single-A players make about $7,000 a year. They get $25/day in per diem while on the road, but typically just eat the PB&J sandwiches provided in the clubhouse. They won't exactly be dropping big dough on steak dinners or in Ocala's antique shops.As far as jobs go, he said there would be about 700 temporary jobs and 300 permanent ones, not including service jobs...."These players will be living in the community while they are here. Other teams come into town," he said.
The visiting teams, he said, likely would stay overnight in hotels and eat in restaurants and shop in local stores.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Yankees were fourth in the Florida State League last year with 1,827 fans per game. And it stands to reason the move from a big city (with lost of entertainment options) to a small city might actually boost that number. But as we saw in Port Charlotte with the Rays' Stone Crabs franchise, the novelty can wear off quickly and heat/humidity win out over the cool new team in town. It may also not suit the FSL to move a team from one of its competitive cores (Tampa Bay) all the way up to Ocala, where long road trips could quickly negate any revenue gain from attendance.