Clay County approves baseball complex plans

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Hitting a home run in Clay County could soon have new meaning.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with plans to build a five-field, multimillion dollar baseball sports complex. Some say not only will it generate millions in visitor spending, it will also bring in thousands of jobs over the next 10 years.

The next step is negotiating with the development authority.

The complex would be built by Big League Dreams, a company that builds smaller scale replicas of major league ballparks in cities around the country that are used primarily for kids baseball teams.

Commissioners voted to build the complex in a wooded area near Chafee and Old Jennings roads.

"As far as keeping children busy and active and not playing their video games or just sitting in the house, I think it's a lot better for the youth," said Ann Carr, who supports the project.

Building the complex comes with an estimated $19 million price tag. At Tuesday's meeting, several area residents addressed the commission, some in support.

"Let's let Clay County take that next step forward," one said.

Others were in opposition.

"It's the taxpayers' money, $19 million worth, and then you have cost over loan, initial cost," one resident said.

Deborah Gonzales says the complex just isn't needed.

"If Clay County is in such a financial surplus, then OK," she said. "But if we're not, why are we even entertaining the idea of government getting into the sports business?"

Clay County Commissioner Wendell Davis points to the potential for job growth. For him, it's about the future.

"How about the folks who had the vision many, many years ago to build the fairgrounds?" Davis said. "Would you say no to building the fairgrounds when you have thousands of people visit it each year?"

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