Major League Baseball has a preliminary deal in place to lease Historic Dodgertown, the venerable Vero Beach, FL complex that was once spring training home of the Dodgers.
Historic Dodgertown–which includes Holman Stadium (shown above)–was the longtime home of spring training for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers played their last spring training game at Holman Stadium in 2008, and Minor League Baseball eventually began leasing the facility with the goal of using it for youth tournaments, an umpire school, corporate events and other activities. However, MiLB encountered financial issues when operating the complex, prompting a group that includes Peter O’Malley to later take over the lease.
Historic Dodgertown has had success in the years since as a draw for sports tournaments and other events, and now MLB is closer to reaching a lease agreement for the complex. If the plans move forward, MLB would enter into a 10-year lease that includes three five-year options. Officials from MLB and Indian River County have confirmed that a lease is nearing completion, and that a plan could go before the county commission early next month. More from TCPalm:
“We’re very, very close to working out the terms of a lease agreement,” Tony Reagins, MLB’s senior vice president of youth programs, said Thursday morning. “We’re excited about the opportunity to enhance the programs there.”
“We’re past the handshake,” said Peter O’Malley, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner who in 2011 began running the county-owned sports complex after Minor League Baseball, citing financial losses, left. He brought the county and MLB together.
County Administrator Jason Brown said he would seek County Commission approval in early December once attorneys worked out the language.
“This is the best partner we could have to ensure the next chapter of Historic Dodgertown is a success,” Brown said, noting MLB is willing to share the cost of site improvements that would make the site even more marketable and user-friendly.
Upgrades to Holman Stadium and the complex would be part of the long-term plan, as an indoor field could be constructed, among other improvements. The complex would also continue to be used for multiple types of sporting events, including baseball, softball, and more.
In addition to spring training, Holman Stadium was also used for a time as the home of a High-A Florida State League franchise (which began as the Dodgers, but was known as the Devil Rays in its final years). Though no longer home to a team on a full-time basis, Historic Dodgertown and Holman Stadium has been hosting Florida State League action in the form of the successful Jackie Robinson Celebration Game that is played annually on April 15. That date commemorates the anniversary of Robinson’s first MLB game, played on April 15, 1947.