Dodgers Moving Back to Albuquerque?

The Dodgers haven't renewed their player-development agreement with the Las Vegas 51s, their Triple-A farm club for the past eight seasons, and have until on Sept. 30 to accept or reject renewal. Newspaper reports by both Las Vegas papers quoted 51s owner Don Logan as saying the lack of a new contract probably means the Dodgers are looking to move their affiliation, possibly back to Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, then called The Dukes, was home for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate for 19 years, from 1972-2000. It presently is affiliated with the Florida Marlins despite being situated almost 2,000 miles from Miami.

The Dodgers, said assistant GM De Jon Watson, would not comment on the matter until after Sept. 15, when a number of major-league clubs are expected to announce that they have signed new player-development contracts or renewed existing ones.

One source with knowledge of the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News, that the club is seeking a Triple-A facility superior to Las Vegas' Cashman Field, which is 25 years old and lacks many of what are now considered basic amenities at the Triple-A level.

The Dodgers left Albuquerque because they refused to upgrade their facilities, but since them they have added all the amenities in an attempt to lure another club to their city.

The Las Vegas ballpark has small clubhouses, and the batting cage is outdoors in a city where summer temperatures routinely reach triple digits. The Dodgers have had discussions with Las Vegas owners for a number of years about upgrading.

The Diamondbacks are rumored to be leaving Tucson and moving their Triple-A affiliation to Reno, which wasn't a Triple-A market before.

Another market that might open up to the Dodgers is Fresno, which is presently affiliated with San Francisco. But how would Northern California fans respond to a Dodgers farm club?

The Dodgers are also apparently checking alternatives to their present Double-A affiliation in Jacksonville, Florida, and have the same problem that the Florida Marlins have with Albuquerque -- it is about 3,000 miles from their big club. However, there is no Double-A market west of Midland, Texas, which presently is affiliated with the Oakland A's.

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