Half-cent Marion Co. sales tax to pay for $53M baseball stadium up for vote

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. —

Before the New York Yankees can move their minor league baseball team from Tampa to Ocala, Marion County voters must approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for a new, $53 million stadium.

Holding a special election on the tax will cost up to $350,000, officials said.

The Yankees stepped up after the Marion County commission balked.

"We have decided to partner with the city and pay for half of the referendum," said Tony Bruno of Yankees Management.

"Quite frankly, I don't see any other objections that will be coming from the commission. But we'll wait and see," Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said.

The commission must follow through and organize a mail-in ballot to be sent to voters next March.

Supporters of the plan to bring the Yankees to town are already trying to convince residents it's a home run.

"For $6 a month, that will be the average for a family in Marion County. About $6 a month to be able to have the New York Yankees in Ocala/Marion County," Daniel Owen on the Ocala City Council said.

Some recent tax referendums have failed in Marion County.

Both the school board and local hospital struck out with a property tax hike to fund improvements.

But city leaders said they can sell voters on the stadium project.

"Just trust us. We've done exactly what we said we would do in the past, and we'll do it again," Guinn said.