Major League Baseball is taking over management of Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL, with reps promising to continue the focus on youth tournaments while also expanding the facility’s year-round offerings.
Dodgertown is the former spring-training home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. After the Dodgers moved spring-training operations to Arizona, Dodgertown first was leased to Minor League Baseball and then to an investment group comprised of the O’Malley family and former MLB players. With the new lease, approved yesterday by Indian River County commissioners, MLB will assume the lease and invest $10 million in physical improvements to the facilities. This includes new seating at Holman Stadium, an indoor batting facilities and classrooms. Indian River County will match that MLB investment, focusing on a press-box upgrade and new concession stands. The specific of the plan still needs to be worked out, according to all sides.
For MLB, it’s an effort to be part of the big youth-sports movement that’s proving to be popular across Florida, per a statement issued by Tony Reagins, MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development:
“We thank the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners for passing the Facility Lease Agreement that will allow us to move forward with our plans to operate and build upon the great legacy of Historic Dodgertown. We also thank Peter O’Malley for maintaining Historic Dodgertown over these past years, especially as hosts of a variety of our development-based events like the Girls Baseball and Softball Breakthrough Series and the Elite Development Invitational. Strengthening the youth and amateur levels of our sport continues to be a central goal of Major League Baseball. The future of Historic Dodgertown is a key component of our overall strategy, particularly as we look to bridge this location’s special history to the future of our game. Additional details will be announced at a later date, but our expectations remain high as we look to provide opportunities and experiences for youth and amateur players that they will never forget.”
No one expects spring training to return to Dodgertown, but we could see some higher-profile events, such as an MLB exhibition game, played there in the future. 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.
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