The Dodgers have confirmed that, as expected, they've chosen the team known as Inland Empire to replace the Vero Beach Dodgers citing the location as the main reason. They also said that they'll continue to use Vero as a base for training, extended spring, minor league rehabilitation and the Gulf Coast team- at least, in 2007.
Tampa Bay will shift its high A affiliatation from Visalia in the California League to Vero Beach, a fact that somewhat mollfies officials in the Florida community . "I think it's basically a business decision, "said Vero Beach City Manager Jim Gabbard. "We are just glad to have baseball here and I think it will be a smooth transition."
But the reaction of fans in the city may be more like that of Nancy Sealand, a longtime season ticket holder for both the Dodger spring training games and the Florida State season. "Tampa Bay? Why didn't they get us a real team?"
Vero fans have long been anticipating the move so were hardly shocked. Its an area of transients like most Florida coast cities and those who care for baseball usually bring their rooting interests with them. Thus, if the Red Sox or Yankees had placed a team in Holman Stadium, they'd have been delighted. But it's hard to find fans of the Devil Rays in this part of the state.
One reason why the Dodgers chose San Bernardino is that it's ideal to place major league rehabs there for the city is an hour to an hour and one-half down the freeway, depending upon traffic.
They stress that the move is not to be considered the beginning of the end for Dodgertown as a training site but they've been in negotiations with Glendale, Ariz., regarding that possibilirty and most people in Vero Beach consider that an inevitable move.
Baird stated that he felt the likelihood of such a move was such that officials from the city and county wll explore other teams as options to replace them when and if that day does arrive.
While the Dodgers have used Vero Beach as its training site since 1948, the Vero Beach team has been in operation since 1980. San Bernardino will be a return for the team as a minor league affiliate for the Dodgers operated a team there from 1990 through 1995.
Dodgers Move Class A Team to San Bernardino
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