Under Minor League Baseball guidance, historic Dodgertown will host a slew of high-school and college games and practices in 2010. Not a bad plan, really, but there are some in Vero Beach who miss the Dodgers — and probably always will.
We've always been of the belief that the future of Dodgertown was as a big practice and game facility for college and high-school teams, giving young players the chance to play on the same practice field where Sandy Koufax honed his fastball, where Walt Alston watched players like Ron Cey and Steve Garvey develop, and where Fernando Valenzuela first attracted the notice of coaches and fans alike. It's a place dripping with history.
But not a place with the amenities teams are looking for in a spring-training complex. Despite some upgrades in recent years, Dodgertown just wasn't going to cut it as a future spring home for the Baltimore Orioles or anyone else, at least without some major investments. Even so, Vero Beach is remote — the nearest airport is many, many miles away — and not a place where a team could draw either in the spring or regular season. People forget that attendance for spring-training games declined steadily, as locals lost interest and Dodgers fans were unwilling to make the trip to a remote part of Florida.
With Minor League Baseball now holding the lease to Dodgertown, the plan is clear: fill the facility with paying customers, many of whom will appreciate the history at Dodgertown. We've heard from some locals who are disappointed that no major-league team will be playing at Dodgertown — as if we could anything about the current lease — and their complains are pretty much spelled out in this Ray McNulty column. Ray's been a passionate advocate for spring training at Dodgertown, but the fact is no one was clamoring to play at Holman Stadium.
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