Indian River County, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers' longtime spring training site in Vero Beach, Fla., has reportedly reached an option agreement with another major league team to take over the facility as early as 2009. However despite mounting speculation, Orioles officials, who have long sought to upgrade their current facility in Fort Lauderdale, aren't saying whether they are that team.
A team source confirmed yesterday that the Orioles have been in serious negotiations with Indian River County about the Dodgertown facility, though a binding agreement hasn't been reached. Orioles owner Peter Angelos declined to comment yesterday when asked whether the club had reached an agreement to move spring training to Vero Beach.
His son, Orioles executive vice president John Angelos, didn't return calls yesterday from The Sun, but he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the club currently "has no obligations anywhere."
"Based on past history, the Orioles don't comment on specifics related to the spring training process and have no current obligations to any cities in Florida or Arizona," said John Angelos when asked whether the Orioles are the team that has signed an agreement with Indian River County. "However, we recently extended our agreement in Fort Lauderdale and continue to pursue the long-term solution to our spring training home."
John Angelos also told the paper that the Orioles have "received solicitations from all over the country."
Indian River County Administrator Joseph Baird, who didn't respond to an interview request from The Sun, told the Vero Beach Press Journal yesterday that more details of the agreement with another major league club would be released once the Dodgers' departure date is solidified.
The Dodgers reached an initial agreement in November 2006 with the city of Glendale, Ariz., to build an $80.7 million complex they will share with the Chicago White Sox. It's not known whether their new facility will be completed in time for 2009 spring training.
The uncertainty has annoyed Vero Beach officials, who want spring training to go on uninterrupted in the city when the Dodgers leave.
The Fort Lauderdale City Commission recently gave the Orioles a one-year extension, with a renewable option for a second year at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The Orioles, who will start their 13th consecutive spring training in Fort Lauderdale in February, had been planning for a much-needed renovation of the 45-year-old, 8,340-seat stadium.
However, the project has been slowed as the Orioles still haven't gotten approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to reconstruct the stadium. That is needed because of the proximity of the stadium to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Florida Rep. Ron Klein recently wrote a letter to the FAA to urge resolution on the matter.