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For Dodgers, spring is in Arizona air

February 15, 2007|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The two parcels total 29.6 acres, so the purchase price would be $14 million. If the land value doubles before the teams buy, the city would lose almost $12 million because of the difference between the fixed option price and market value.

The city bought the land for $7 million in 2001, Frisoni said. The land has since remained vacant and generated no revenue.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 16, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball: A map that appeared in Section A on Thursday showing both current and proposed spring training sites in Arizona had some of the stadiums in the wrong location. A corrected version appears on Page D7.

Mayor Elaine Scruggs said the city had to buy the "irregularly shaped" parcels of land to clear the way for future development.

"We will be making a fair return on the purchase price," she said.

Whatever revenues the Dodgers generate from developing that land would not be tapped for baseball's revenue-sharing pool, Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy said.

McCourt declined to say whether he would have made the deal if it did not include a development opportunity or if he had to pay market value for the land. He said he would not consider exercising the land option for three to five years and would not discuss what he might do with the property.

"I'm focused on the spring training facility," he said.

He called it "conceivable" that he could replicate Glendale development ideas in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, but said he has not yet considered any such concepts. His interest in pursuing development in Arizona, he said, reflects the relocation of his real estate company from Boston to Los Angeles.

"That is one of our core businesses," he said. "We do have the desire to develop both here in Southern California and in other parts of the Western United States. We're not going to rush into anything. The Dodgers are our No. 1 priority."

In Vero Beach, the Dodgers have long been a top priority, so much so that the city and county bought Dodgertown from the team in 2001, renovated the facility and leased it back to the team for $1 a year.

For the Dodgers to break their lease, Florida officials initially said, the team would have to pay about $15 million to cover outstanding bonds.

However, the lease also offers the Dodgers the option to buy back Dodgertown. If they did, they could profit by selling the property to a developer, who might raze the complex rather than allow the city and county to seek a team to replace the Dodgers.

As a result, Vero Beach and Indian River County tentatively have agreed to let the Dodgers break the lease without charge, Vero Beach City Manager James Gabbard said. In exchange, the Dodgers will let the city and county remain in control of the property. McCourt would not say whether he would have moved had the Dodgers remained obligated to pay the $15 million.

"What they're saying to us is, they just want to walk," Gabbard said. "They're leaving something on the table. They're being gracious. Mr. McCourt could already have sold it and walked with some extra money."

The Dodgers could walk with some extra money nonetheless, by selling the minor league team they own in Vero Beach. As a precursor to the spring training move, they have shifted one of their Class-A affiliations from Vero Beach to San Bernardino.

For the next two years, they have agreed to operate the Vero Beach franchise as an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2009, as the Dodgers move into their new spring home in Arizona, the Devil Rays will move to a new spring home in Port Charlotte, Fla.

The Devil Rays could then buy the minor league franchise from the Dodgers and move it to Port Charlotte. A Florida State League franchise is worth $3 million to $5 million, according to the general manager of another team in the league.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," McCourt said.

Although the Dodgers committed $127 million to free agents this winter, including $47 million to Schmidt and $44 million to Juan Pierre, McCourt said the winter spending and the potential increase in spring training revenues were "totally disconnected."

Glendale has yet to secure final approvals, McCourt said, and the cash will not start flowing until 2009. In any case, he said, revenues from spring training represent "a small piece of our overall economics."

The Glendale complex will provide the players with a state-of-the-art training facility and provide fans with easier access to spring games, McCourt said. With land values subject to fluctuation and development opportunities uncertain, he said he cannot predict how much revenue the Glendale deal might deliver.

"It remains to be seen," he said. "We didn't make the decision based on that."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Spring training in Arizona

The expected 2009 moves of the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox to Glendale, Ariz., and the Cleveland Indians to Goodyear, Ariz., would make 14 teams at 11 spring training sites in Arizona. The teams and facilities:

[please see microfilm for full map information]

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Major league teams that train in Arizona

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1. Texas Rangers, Kansas City

Royals: Surprise Stadium

2. San Diego Padres, Seattle

Mariners: Peoria Sports

Complex

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Maryvale

Stadium

4. Dodgers, Chicago White

Sox: Glendale, 2009

5. Cleveland Indians: Goodyear,

2009

6. Oakland Athletics: Phoenix

Municipal Stadium

7. San Francisco Giants:

Scottsdale Stadium

8. Angels: Tempe Diablo

Stadium

9. Chicago Cubs: Hohokam

Park, Mesa

10. Arizona Diamondbacks:

Tucson Electric Park

11. Colorado Rockies: Hi Corbett

Field, Tucson

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Source: MLB.com

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