The Glendale, Ariz., City Council approved an agreement Tuesday that assures the Dodgers their new spring home can open on time in 2009 and guarantees them financial compensation if it does not.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said construction could start in October on a complex that would house the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Assuming city officials can complete the project on that tight construction schedule -- and they insist they can -- the Dodgers would play their final spring in Vero Beach, Fla., next year.
"We're leaving a community where we've had a wonderful relationship for 60 years," McCourt told the Glendale council. "We don't do that lightly. On the other hand, we do it with a good deal of excitement and optimism."
The Dodgers could have the place all to themselves at first. The White Sox are contractually bound to Tucson through 2012, unless they can find a team to replace them there. Under the agreement, the White Sox could be fined $250,000 for each spring game they do not play in Glendale.
The complex includes a stadium with 12,000 seats, plus 3,000 lawn seats. The teams will pay nothing toward construction and $1 each per year in rent and will keep all revenue from Cactus League games.
The city estimated construction costs at $80 million on Tuesday, up from $76.8 million in November, with state funds covering a majority of the costs and sales taxes from surrounding developments expected to cover the rest. The agreement obligates the city to pay double shifts and overtime to construction crews if needed for the facility to open on time.
If the complex is not ready on time, the city must reimburse each team for its expenses in holding training camp elsewhere and pay the team $250,000 for each game that would have been played in Glendale.