Winter Park leaders push plan for Minor League Baseball - FOX 35 News Orlando

Winter Park leaders push plan for Minor League Baseball

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WINTER PARK, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - If Winter Park city leaders hit a home run, the Brevard Manatees will start playing minor league baseball there in 2016.  There are still questions on how to pay for a new stadium.

It’s a field of dreams for Rollins College baseball players, but the Brevard Manatees might move into a new stadium there.  Winter Park city leaders spent Monday night working on a plan to pay for a $33 million stadium.  

Some residents and people who work in Winter Park have congestion concerns. 

“Baseball is a great sport and it’s a lot of fun, but I don’t think that’s a good location for it at all,” said resident Besty Owens.  “It’s already extremely congested, and these baseball games start at 6:30 p.m., which is one of the worst times to be driving through that area.”

Winter park would chip in $6 million to build the stadium.   Rollins and team owners would pay for the rest.  Monday evening, city leaders decided to ask Orange County Commissioners for a five-year extension on Winter Park’s community redevelopment agency, or CRA.  City Manager Randy Knight says without that extension it would be tough to pay for the stadium.

“It would certainly put us back in the batter’s box instead of rounding first where I think we are today,” said Knight.

Knight added that the baseball team could boost Winter Park’s economy by $60 million over ten years. 

“More importantly, I think this offers a family friendly opportunity for the families in Winter Park to go to something that’s inexpensive and to get up close to the action.”

Some residents want minor league baseball in Winter Park, but echo Owens' concerns about traffic and parking along North Orange Avenue.

“Traffic and parking are both very important issues that over this next few months we have to work out, because if you cannot solve those problems, this won’t go forward,” said Knight.  

Knight tells FOX 35 News the Orange County Commission could consider extending the CRA by five years during one of its June meetings.

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