Glendale holding up the Dodgers, Dodgers holding up Vero, Vero holding up the Orioles. Sounds like it’s all going to eventually work out for all parties involved. For now, though, there seems to be a lot of nervousness — and a lot of insisting that no one should worry because EVERYTHING IS FINE!!!!
By Tony Jackson
The Dodgers will have to wait at least two more days before learning whether their new spring-training facility in Glendale, Ariz., will be completed in time for them to hold their first camp there in 2009.
A representative of the city of Glendale denied on Tuesday that any deadline had passed for providing the Dodgers with that information. It had been widely reported that the city was expected to tell the Dodgers by Monday, but club officials still haven’t received word.
“I think there was a misunderstanding, and the Dodgers thought the deadline was the 17th,” said Julie Frisoni, Glendale’s communications director. “I believe the deadline is Thursday. We haven’t been given those documents (by) the builder. I am pretty close to positive that we will know by Thursday.”
Meanwhile, city officials in the Dodgers’ current spring home of Vero Beach, Fla., remain in limbo in their discussions with a possible replacement team — believed to be the Baltimore Orioles — because they aren’t sure whether the Dodgers will vacate in 2009 or 2010.
Tom Harrison, the construction manager for the M.A. Mortenson Company, the firm contracted to build the complex in Glendale, didn’t return repeated calls to his office from the Daily News. But Frisoni said the project remains on schedule, along with any built-in safeguards against delays due to inclement weather.
“Arizona is like California in that we don’t often have weather issues in terms of (affecting) construction,” Frisoni said. “If it were to happen, Tom has spoken about working double shifts or weekends or whatever it took. I think he will also tell you that several other (spring-training) ballparks built recently in Arizona all have been built on this time frame, and it’s a pretty standard time frame for (a project of) this nature.”
The Dodgers will share the $80.7 million complex — two-thirds of which is being funded by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority — with the Chicago White Sox. But the White Sox aren’t expected to move into the new facility until 2010 because of issues surrounding their current lease in Tucson, Ariz.
For now, the lack of certainty on the Dodgers’ part is beginning to wear thin on officials in Vero Beach. Joe Baird, an Indian River County administrator who is spearheading negotiations with the Orioles, didn’t return repeated messages from the Daily News. But Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reported on Sunday that Baird is contemplating a legal action against the Dodgers to force them to provide a definitive answer.
The paper also said negotiations with an unnamed replacement team could be jeopardized by the Dodgers’ uncertainty. The Orioles presently train in an outdated, substandard facility in Fort Lauderdale, at least an hour’s drive from any other Grapefruit League complex.