PCB Preparing for Minor League Baseball Team

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - A group of local investors wants to put Panama City Beach in a position to attract a Minor League Baseball team in the future.

Representatives approached the Bay County Tourist Development Council Tuesday to propose a new baseball stadium.

The last time a Minor League Baseball team suited-up in bay county was 1961. That was the last season for the Panama City Fliers.

A local group of investors wants Bay County to get back into the baseball business.

"We would like to bring Minor League Baseball back here. So that's what we are kind of doing today, testing the temperature of being able to get their support," said William Harrison, local attorney.

Harrison presented the group's plan to the Bay County TDC Tuesday.

He is proposing a public-private partnership to come up with the key piece of the equation...the stadium, which would cost an estimated $30 million.

He said, "We have looked around at some other locations on the other side of the bridge, but currently our focus is on Panama City Beach. We are also offering some amateur field for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse."

The stadium would seat about 4,000 people. The attraction for the TDC and Panama City Beach would be the additional amateur facilities.

If the group can land a minor league team, the TDC could promote a 70 game home schedule to tourists.

"If we can integrate the amateur side, some of the sports fields and some of the other complexes that they are talking about bringing in, if we can integrate that into our efforts then we really do have a win-win situation. We could be in a $100 million impact easily between the amateur and the minor baseball," said Buddy Wilkes, TDC Chairman.

Building the stadium is not a guarantee for a Minor League team. Major League Baseball would have to approve the franchise, but that won't happen without a stadium.

Harrison's group will work on some details with Wilkes, and report back to the TDC in a few weeks.

If the TDC and the beach want the amateur fields for next year, they'll have to act quickly.

Harrison says the minor league park construction could come later.

Don't forget, Gulf Coast State College will be losing it's ball fields to the Highway 98/23rd Street Flyover Project and will soon need a place to practice and play.