An Orlando man’s dream of moving the Tampa Yankees to Orlando hit a snag this week when the Orange County mayor turned down his request to lease county land on International Drive.
A development group including Armando Gutierrez Jr. and the New York Yankees want to create a stadium and baseball museum complex called Yankee Town next to the Orange County Convention Center. They would move the Yankees’ Class a affiliate from Tampa to Orlando.
Their plan wouldn’t affect the major league New York Yankees or its Tampa spring training operation.
The group asked Orange County for use of 12 acres next to the convention center. but on Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs decided not to play ball. she wrote a letter to New York Yankees Senior Vice President Felix Lopez, saying the developers’ terms were unacceptable.
Among other things, the developers — using the name Orlando Baseball Venture LLC — proposed paying the county $183,750 a year in rent. Jacobs’ county staff determined that was far below market rent for such a prime location.
Ordinarily, the land on International Drive would fetch more than $1 million a year, according to her staff’s analysis. also, the staff questioned the developer’s projection that the Yankees would draw 3,500 fans a game in Orlando, calling that an “unproven estimate.”
The team draws about 1,600 per game in Tampa historically, Jacobs’ staff said.
Finally, Jacobs told Lopez that the stadium wasn’t the best fit for the location. It might have complemented the convention center’s facilities, but with just 5,000 seats, it would be too small for many of its clients.
When reached by the Tribune on Thursday, Gutierrez would only say, “We regret to see the mayor’s decision.”
Gutierrez said he may have more information next week.