It looks like the Spring Training move has become official. The Orioles are saying goodbye to their Fort Lauderdale Spring Training home, and are going across the state to Sarasota.
I'll miss good times in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami (heck I'll still go there every March for fun), but the team is moving to a seemingly better facility and a better place to do business with the ability to have the major and minor leagues training in the same vicinity.
Also, the facility in Sarasota will indeed be updated and include some more additions.
From the Baltimore Sun: After years of fishing, exploring and negotiating, the Orioles finally have settled on a new spring training facility in Florida.
Starting in February 2010, the club, which has been in Fort Lauderdale since 1996, will hold spring training in Sarasota and its Ed Smith Stadium, on the western coast of the state. The big league camp will be within a dozen miles of the organization's minor league facility, which is already in Sarasota (website for the Ed Smith Stadium).
"We look forward with great anticipation to becoming an important part of the civic fabric of the Sarasota community and to bringing Orioles baseball to the residents of the greater Sarasota area," Orioles executive vice president John Angelos, who has spearheaded the relocation effort, said in a statement.
The Orioles will play in the 22-year-old stadium next spring, and a full renovation will begin after the club heads north. The stadium will be rebuilt, with the current seating capacity increasing from 7,500 to between 8,500 and 9,000.
In addition, the dilapidated Twin Lakes Park complex will be fully renovated and refurbished. Adjacent to Twin Lakes Park will be a newly constructed Cal Ripken Youth Baseball Academy, which can be used year-round for camps and tournaments."I am thrilled that ... Ripken Baseball will be a part of the facility in Sarasota," Ripken, the Orioles' Hall of Famer who has a similar academy in Aberdeen, said in a statement. "I have always liked the idea of the kids playing side-by-side with the professional ballplayers."
"There's no doubt that the facility needs some upgrades," said Orioles catcher Gregg Zaun, who has played at Ed Smith as a visitor. "But if they put some money into it, it could be great because it's got everything right there."