Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are The Orioles Close To Having A New Spring Training Home?

One of the side stories in the offseason with the Baltimore Orioles organization has been about possibly securing a new home for spring training, or refurbishing their current home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Now the Baltimore Sun has some news on that front:

Vero Beach, Fla., and Indian River County officials are hopeful that Orioles owner Peter Angelos and the team's upper management will meet as early as next week and approve an agreement that would make Dodgertown the team's long-term spring training home starting in 2010.

Representatives from the Orioles and Indian River County and Vero Beach spent Wednesday and Thursday meeting in Orlando, Fla., trying to complete a deal that has been discussed for more than a year. A negotiation agreement between the Orioles and the county expired yesterday, but government officials are prepared to give the team time to review the offer.

"We have made them our final offer," Vero Beach Mayor Tom White said yesterday. "After many hours of discussion and changing this and changing that, I'm hoping that Mr.Angelos and the board of directors will accept it. I think it's a good offer and they'll be happy here."

Orioles executive vice president John Angelos, who is heading the organization's search for a long-term spring training home, hasn't returned calls this week. Director of communications Greg Bader said the team wouldn't be commenting on the matter.

The Orioles have long maintained they are committed to staying in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the club has trained since 1996. They will be back in Fort Lauderdale again in February, but barring a significant change in the coming months, it could be their last training camp there.

I'll say from visiting the Orioles facility in Southern Florida -- it is woefully inept and behind the times in terms of sports complexes. The stadium in Fort Lauderdale does not compare to the other spring training homes in Florida, and is frankly outdated.

I would have no problem with the organization moving north to Vero Beach; however, aside from a great complex and atmosphere for baseball, there's not frankly much to do in the vicinity.

Vero Beach is closer for many fans who drive from the Northeast; alas, in terms of hotels, nightlife, food, etc., it does not compare to Southern Florida. But I'll say that Vero Beach's facility is perfect for spring training, and you could do worse.

I should say Vero Beach -- a small town -- does not have the profile, size or activity of Ft. Lauderdale, a much larger city.

However, I hope the Orioles stay in South Florida just for sake of staying there.

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