Trading the beach for cactus
From the Palm Beach Post-
For nearly 60 years, Dodgertown has remained a true gem in the chaotic world of professional baseball, a reminder of why baseball became the nation's pastime in the first place.Anyone who lives in Florida knows how transient the community is here. People come and go, as do businesses. Baseball is a business and it should hardly us that the Dodgers are starting to look for greener(or browner as in desert) pastures. Vero Beach was a sleepy Florida community 60 years ago. Not anymore, and the Dodgers may have outgrown their long-time spring home. Or is the move being made so the team can be closer to the west coast? Does it matter?
While other teams raced to follow the highest bidder and modernized stadiums to the point of building stalag-like compounds, Vero Beach's Dodgertown stayed true to its roots, preferring simplicity to technology.
Baseball executives confirmed Tuesday they're negotiating with city officials in Glendale, Ariz., to move the Dodgers' spring training camp closer to their fan base in Los Angeles.
Although the talks come only six years after the team rejected a bid to move its spring home to Las Vegas, Indian River County officials fear the Arizona discussions could be the end of an era in Vero Beach.
And no one in Indian River County is cheering.
"Obviously, it's serious," Indian River County Administrator Joe Baird said Tuesday. "They have a memorandum of understanding with Glendale, but that's just the beginning stage and they have a long way to go."
Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' senior vice president of communications, said she could not discuss the details but confirmed that the team is talking with Glendale. Nothing has been decided, she said.
"This is just a first step," she said. "This is not a done deal."
A move to Arizona would bring the team much closer to home for spring training.
"The reason to do it would be to get closer to our West Coast fan base," she said.
The Dodgers still have to negotiate a formal agreement with the Phoenix suburb's officials for a publicly financed stadium they may share with the Chicago White Sox.
The Dodgers have trained in Vero Beach since 1948, which was nine years before the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, and signed a new agreement just five years ago to use the stadium at Vero Beach Airport.
They'll either have to pay off a bond issue or buy the stadium to get out of the local agreement, Baird said.
It could cost the Dodgers about $16 million to break the lease, which expires in 2021.
To the city of Vero Beach it does matter. Unfortunately they may have little say in whatever the final decision of the Dodgers is.
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