Here’s one reason why spring training is unlikely to return to the former Dodgertown in Vero Beach: Between youth tournaments, swimming meets and other events, Vero Beach Sports Village is the busiest it’s been since the 1940s, when the Brooklyn Dodgers hosted 26 teams there during spring training.
It’s a vindication of sort for Minor League Baseball, which stepped in to take over the lease at the former spring home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. Local baseball fans were dismayed when the team shifted spring operations to Arizona; meanwhile, some team owners were dismayed when MiLB took over Dodgertown and Holman Stadium.
While we’re not privy to the financials, it does appear that the rebranded and remarketed Vero Beach Sports Village is generating some serious usage. Since March 1, when over 70 teams began participating in its inaugural spring-training program for high-school and college baseball teams, VBSV diamonds have hosted more than 300 games, plus an average of three practices a day.
VBSV has also hosted the Italian National Baseball Team, three members of the Chinese National Boxing Team, two college swim and dive teams and other organizations during this period.
“The amount of volume that has been generated by the number of teams and organizations at Vero Beach Sports Village recently is what we had envisioned for this historic, multi-purpose facility when we agreed to operate it,” said Craig Callan, VP, MiLB-Vero Beach.
The 89 hotel-style villas at VBSV have been used for over 8,600 guest nights since the beginning of last month. The dining facility, which offers full or cafeteria-style service, has prepared over 25,000 meals this spring. In addition, an estimated 2,800 guest nights have been generated for local hotels as a result of the recent activities at VBSV.
Every once in a while there’s the call to return MLB spring training to Vero Beach, though the trend in MLB is away from the Treasure Coast with the departure of the Dodgers and Orioles in recent years. The numbers generated under MiLB management — assuming they’re accompanied by profits — are probably the final nail in the coffin for that argument.
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