Dodgers Set to Move from Vegas, Jacksonville

The Dodgers are expected to make the announcement today that they have signed two-year player agreements with Albuquerque, New Mexico and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and will be leaving Las Vegas and Jacksonville. The moves had been rumored for some time but no destination had been determined.

The Dodgers AAA franchise was in Las Vegas for eight seasons after leaving Albuquerque where they were called the Dukes and had played from 1972-2000. Los Angeles had been in AA Jacksonville since 2004 after leaving their long-time home in San Antonio. Cincinnati has been affiliated with the Chattanooga franchise for the past 21 seasons, the second longest affiliation in the Southern League.

The Dodgers have asked Las Vegas to upgrade their park for a number of years and that is believed the reason for the move. Chattanooga is much closer to Los Angeles than Jacksonville and is in a more central location in the Southern League.

The Chattanooga Times-Free Press confirmed that Chattanooga Lookouts owner Frank Burke has signed a player development contract with the Dodgers for the 2009-2010 seasons.

"They liked the location of our park; they liked the location of Chattanooga in the league; and it just made a lot of sense," Burke said. "It's a nationally recognized franchise and it's got a lot of history, just like the Lookouts. I'm hoping it will be a great partnership."

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who was born in Chattanooga and played for the University of Tennessee, said "I think it's better travel for us within that league and it's certainly an area I know something about.

"I'm very happy for Frank to get our organization. I hope he's happy. I know our farm director (De Jon Watson) is extremely happy. I hope it ends up being a good relationship for a long time and that the people in Chattanooga become a little more Dodger-friendly. Maybe the Dodgers can get a little more press now in Chattanooga."

Burke said the Lookouts will wear uniforms similar to the Dodgers and may unveil them as early as next week.

"I'm very excited, but it's kind of bittersweet because I've been with the Reds for a very long time," Burke said. "This is something new to talk about and something new to work on. The Dodgers are like the Yankees and the Red Sox in that there are Dodger fans all over the United States. They have such a national presence. But I have nothing bad to say about the Cincinnati organization."

Southern League members Carolina and Jacksonville still seek a parent club, as does Connecticut in the Eastern League.

The Dodgers are moving their spring-training operations from Vero Beach, Florida, to Glendale, Arizona, and the Dodgers' rookie-league club will be moved from the Gulf Coast League to the Arizona League,

This removes the last official part of the Dodgers organization from Florida.