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County to request update on Tinker Field



Will Orange County get behind the effort to save Orlando's historic Tinker Field? The fate of this baseball field, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his one and only appearance in the area in 1964, has been in question ever since it was revealed that it stood in the way of the city of Orlando's plans to renovate the Citrus Bowl. When the city indicated that it needed to level the neglected and underutilized field, it resulted in a community outcry. In August 2014, the city put its plans on hold (but it also deferred taking action on designating the field a historic place), and at the time, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer committed to take no further action until a final decision could be made. As of now, there's no plan to demolish the field. But there's no commitment to save it, either.

That irks Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, who says he thinks the field should be revitalized and used for high-school baseball or community events. The city came to the county multiple times over the years seeking money for its venues and stadiums projects, he points out, but never once mentioned Tinker Field.

"They could have told us when they came to us for the Citrus Bowl that it would cause Tinker Field to be demolished," he says. "We could have proposed to save the field, but we weren't even made aware of it until way after the fact."

The county has no standing to tell the city what to do with the field; however, Clarke says he has requested that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs look into what the county can do to assist with preservation efforts. At a recent county meeting, Jacobs agreed to write a letter to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, asking him what the "options" are for the field.

Cassandra Lafser, spokeswoman for the city, was unable to say what the city's plans for the field were, only that "Mayor Dyer has always committed to creating a recognition of the significant events that took place at Tinker Field." – Erin Sullivan

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