Indian River County's deal is with the Oriole

Laurel Scheffel, writing in the Vero Beach Press-Journal, reports that according to sources, the Baltimore Orioles have signed an option agreement with Indian River County to replace the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgertown.

Officially, Indian River County Administrator Joe Baird has declined to name the team, citing economic development reasons that protect him from having to report information about the negotiations.

Baird would only say, "I have an option agreement with a Major League Baseball team, where I can only speak to that particular team."

When the Orioles would move to Vero Beach is not known because the Dodgers have not said when they're moving to their new site in Glendale, Ariz.

Dodgers Director of Public Relations Josh Rawitch reported it likely will be a few weeks or more before they can determine a date, because Glendale still needs to approve the construction timeline recently provided by the construction manager.

Baird apparently didn't want to keep waiting on the Dodgers before reaching an agreement with another team, so he put together a resolution — presented to the County Commission Dec. 4 — seeking authorization to negotiate an option agreement with a Major League Baseball team. The source said the Orioles signed the option agreement shortly after that.

The Orioles have trained in Fort Lauderdale since 1996. Their lease runs through 2008 and they have an option for 2009.

Vero Beach Mayor Tom White said Baird has filled him in on the negotiations but also declined to discuss the specifics. He did have some thoughts on what would draw a team like the Orioles to Dodgertown, despite the age of Holman Stadium, which opened in 1953.

"Dodgertown is unique," White said. "I know it's not a big, fancy stadium, but it takes you back to that hometown feeling. You've got the berm and close seating to the field. It brings you close to the baseball players, and it's a uniqueness that attracts them. Plus what Vero Beach has to offer — the atmosphere alone is worth a lot to the players because they are not in the hustle-bustle of the big cities."

?In Fort Lauderdale, the Orioles are separated from the rest of the Grapefruit League spring training sites — Jupiter is the closest facility, 53 miles away. No teams train to the south of Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Myers is the nearest to the west, 140 miles away.

The Dodgers have held spring training in Vero Beach since 1948, when they still played in Brooklyn.

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