Yankees pull plug on effort to relocate minor league team to Ocala



OCALA, Fla. - Channel 9 has learned the New York Yankees have pulled their proposal to move their minor league team from Tampa to Ocala following two years of negotiations.

Now, Ocala is out $300,000 it spent in an attempt to lure the team to Marion County.

City leaders will now work on another plan to pay for the stadium, but $53 million won't be easy to come by.

There was a hint of depression in the air as Ocala City Council President John McLeod read a letter from the Yankees.

"While we expected to bring the community together with this project, it has unfortunately become a source of division," said McLeod.

And with that, the Yankees withdrew their plan to relocate their minor league baseball team.

"They were a little taken back at the first county commission meeting where they were expecting a little bit more united support. And they didn't get that. That's politics. That's the way things go sometimes," said McLeod.

The Marion County Commission did not like the fact that the stadium would be funded by a half-cent bump in the sales tax.

The city and the Yankees agreed to pay for a special election to let Marion voters decide it, but after nearly three months of talking, the commission had not agreed to hold that election, so the Yankees pulled out.

"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.