Former Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry once called us the "low-forehead, nose-picking yahoos of Orlando.''
That impression must still exist, because a developer from South Florida is making us an offer that only low-forehead, nose-picking yahoos would accept.
Armando Gutierrez Jr. wants to bring the Tampa Yankees to International Drive. They are a farm team for the New York Yankees.
They are Baby Yankees.
Gutierrez says he will build a 5,000-seat stadium on 12 acres next to the Orange County Convention Center.
The county owns the land, meaning we own the land.
Now, if Gutierrez wanted to buy or lease our land at fair-market value, I would say, "Play ball!"
But this is his offer: If we give him a 65-year lease, he will give us 75 cents for each ticket sold. According to the proposal, we will keep getting 75 cents for the next 65 years, no matter how much the tickets go up in price.
The economic-impact study calculates ticket sales will bring in $183,750 a year, based on selling 3,500 tickets for each of the 70 games.
I wonder how many shots of tequila it took to get those numbers.
We are not a baby baseball town. We have gone through our fair share of teams, each one striking out in front of sparse crowds at Tinker Field.
The last to leave was the Orlando Rays.
The team moved to Disney's Wide World of Sports in 1999 and a few hundred people showed up.
The lines at Space Mountain were longer.
The Orlando Rays are now in Alabama, where they are the Montgomery Biscuits.
Baby baseball works in places where there is nothing else to do and there are lots of senior citizens.
No team that plays in the Tampa Yankees' league draws anywhere close to 3,500 fans a night. One reason is that it is Class A ball, near the bottom of the professional barrel.
Gutierrez says convention-goers next door would attend the games.
Remember what I said about these teams working in places where there is nothing else to do?
We have seven world-class theme parks. We have Harry Potter. We have four water parks and shopping and entertainment districts. We have the NBA and, heck, one day maybe even a performing-arts center.
And visitors are going to sit outside in the summer humidity and watch baby baseball?
That's why you come to Orlando?
The project also would include some retail development and a baseball museum, which Gutierrez says would attract 300,000 people a year.
I asked him where the number came from, and he referred me to the person who did the economic study for the project.
That person said he got the number from Gutierrez.
Now I know how if felt batting against Gaylord Perry (ask a baseball fan).
No private landowners on I-Drive would do this deal or anything close to it. That's why Gutierrez isn't bringing it to them.
The odds of finding low-forehead, nose-picking yahoos are much better in government.
Only a yahoo would tie up such a valuable piece of land for 65 years based on phantom revenues. Do you know what that property would be worth if you could put a casino on it? And don't think that day isn't coming.
Here is a better idea.
Wait for the economy to recover, put the land on the market and take the best offer.
It will be better than 75 cents a ticket for baby baseball.
Handing this site over to Gutierrez is the equivalent of giving him a no-bid contract.
Apparently, former Mayor Rich Crotty blew off the deal, but now Gutierrez is back with current Mayor Teresa Jacobs' campaign manager as his lobbyist.
Talk about inside baseball.
As I pressed him with questions, Gutierrez got flustered.
"It's obvious you're not a baseball fan," he said. "If you were a baseball fan, then you'd understand the honor that it is to have the Yankees in your backyard."
If the Yankees want to be in my backyard, they can afford to buy it.
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