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Dodgers counting down to Arizona

They know they'll miss Vero Beach, but some things can be improved at new site in 2009.

March 03, 2007|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

VERO BEACH, FLA. — The first home game of the spring Friday served as a reminder that there is ample room for improvement when the Dodgers design, build and move to their new digs in Glendale, Ariz., in 2009.

The concourses could be built wide enough for fans to enter and exit without squeezing against each other. More concession stands are needed. Bathrooms can be located on the same level as the stands.

Dodgertown and Holman Stadium have their undeniable charms, not to mention more tradition than any spring training complex. A challenge for Glendale will be to integrate the best aspects of the facility the Dodgers have used since 1948 while also providing modern amenities.

"We have to build the best place, the standard for the next generation of spring training facilities," said Craig Callan, the Dodgers vice president of spring training and minor league facilities. "We don't want fans to say that it is just like every other spring training facility. It has to be distinctive.

"There will be a time when we sit down and define Dodgertown tradition and lore. We'll ask ourselves, how can we preserve as much of it as possible and take it with us to Glendale?"

Callan has lived in Vero Beach and worked for the Dodgers for 27 years. Nobody is more aware of Dodgertown's charms. Yet he is excited about the move.

"We want it to develop the same tradition in Glendale," he said. "We want baseball fans to have fond memories of visiting spring training in Arizona that they pass on to the next generations, just like they did here."

A sampling of fans the last two weeks has made it clear that the best aspect of Dodgertown is its unequaled access to players for autographs and informal chats walking to and from practice fields.

"There is no doubt that we will try to take as much of this fan-friendly, tradition-filled atmosphere and incorporate it into the Glendale complex," Callan said. "We aren't at the stage of talking about specifics, but the things that make Dodgertown so special, we'll do our best to maintain that."

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steve.henson@latimes.com

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