To Move Vero Beach A Club To California

Confirming a report that we had on Wednesday, the Dodgers have announced they are dropping their farm team in Vero Beach in favor of one located in the California League beginning next season.

Tampa Bay will replace the Dodgers as far as the Florida State League is concerned. There has yet to be any official word on the Dodgers moving their training site from Vero to Arizona although they have been in discussions about that for some time and this latest step would seem to be another prelude for that eventuality.

Exactly where the Diodgers will tie up in the Cal League has yet to be announced. There are four openings at this time- Inland Empire, High Desert, Lancaster and Visalia. The latter is the city Tampa Bay will be leaving in favor of placing their high A team in Florida, something they weren't able to accomplish until now.

Inland Empire, which operates the team in San Bernardino would seem to be the ideal location for the Dodgers, both from a geographical and attendance standpoint. It is located on the shoulder of L.A. and last year, when it operated as a Mariners' farm team, drew 186,065, three times what Vero saw come through the gates.

Lancaster, a city north of L.A., drew 117,123 as a farm for Arizona. High Desert, which is located in the small town (less than 10,000) of Adelanto, is in the parched country that lies between L.A. and Las Vegas. It's the site of George Air Force Base with Victorville, the nearest city of any size, about 10 miles away. As a Kansas City farm, it drew 122,576 in 2006.

Visalia is really in Giants' country, lying between Bakersfield and Fresno. It only drew 61,958 in 2008 which is less than Vero Beach, which drew 64,985, a total which is part of the reason L.A. is pulling out.

Although the Dodgers have trained at Dodgertown in Vero Beach since 1948, they didn't put a farm team there until 1980. They have a long history in the California League dating back to their Brooklyn days with affiliates located at various times in Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Lodi and Reno as well as San Bernardino.