Sports village swings into spring, but may shut down next year
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Local, national and international baseball teams have already kicked up the red clay at Vero Beach Sports Village this year, but next year the complex could be closed.
The facility formerly known as Dodgertown has been leased from the county since 2009, first by Minor League Baseball, and in January 2012, the lease assignment was amended to Verotown, which includes MiLB and other partners, including former Los Angeles Dodgers president, Peter O'Malley.
In a letter to county administrator Joe Baird dated Feb.5, Craig Callan, vice president of Vero Beach Sports Village, wrote that Verotown would not exercise their lease renewal option when the current lease expires in April 2014.
In a memorandum to Indian River County commissioners, county attorney Alan Polackwich said negotiations with Verotown been bogged down when agreements could not be reach on Verotown's liability for capital expenses, casualty insurance premiums and liquidated damages in the event the lease is broken before expiring.
Mr. Callan wrote in his letter that Verotown's purpose was to "save and polish what has been known as Dodgertown."
"They were not motivated by profit, but they also have interest in significant losses," the letter said.
"Since 2009, the facility has yet to break even, but the losses have consistently been halved each year and the business model will work moving forward," Mr. Callan said in a previous interview.
The lease stipulations in renewal negotiations with the county would not, however, allow for the group to continue operating Vero Beach Sports Village, Mr. Callan wrote.
Mr. Polackwich was scheduled to present the letter for informational purposes and discussion during the March 5 county commission meeting, but the results of that presentation were not available at press time.
In late 2012, the nonprofit Treasure Coast Sports Commission conducted an economic impact study about the sports facility. According to the study, the complex brought in $21.06 million to the area since December 2009.
Last week, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo, one of the Verotown partners, was in Vero Beach to welcome the Meiji University's baseball team to the sports facility for spring training camp.
Meiji University is one of the largest and most prestigious Japanese universities located in Tokyo, a press release said.
The college and spring training program at Vero Beach Sports Village is just getting started and 131 teams from 26 states are expected to travel to Vero Beach through the end of April to participate in the program.
For more information about Indian River County government meetings, visit www.ircgov.com. For more information about Vero Beach Sports Village, visit www.vbsportsvillage.com.