(MLB) Baltimore Orioles to leave Baltimore?

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Vero Beach eyes Orioles if Dodgers leave

Vero Beach, Fla. -- Mayor Tom White said the city would be interested in the Baltimore Orioles filling the vacancy at Dodgertown if the Los Angeles Dodgers leave within the next two years.

"We would absolutely be interested," White said. "In fact, I have been told the Orioles have already been in contact in reference to them filling Dodgertown, so we are looking at that and other things.

"Things are not firmed up, and we still have to be careful because the Dodgers are still working on their deal in Arizona, but we are open to a major league team filling their spot and they [the Orioles] expressed interest."

Sources say Orioles officials were in town earlier this month. Orioles Director of Media Relations and Publications Bill Stetka refused to comment on the meetings in Vero Beach.

"We are not going to comment on that," Stetka said. "At this time we are trying to focus our efforts on Fort Lauderdale."

Fort Lauderdale has been the home of the Orioles' spring training since 1996, but they were counting on support from the city to help pay for a $48 million upgrade of the 45-year-old stadium. But Tuesday city commissioners voted 3-2 against supporting that plan. City commissioners in September had pledged $240,000 a year for 30 years to fund the project, but on Tuesday voted against a plan to spend just $150,000 a year to help pay off the bond.

The decision could mean that Fort Lauderdale will miss out on state money to help pay for the project. The Florida Legislature will be allotting five communities $15 million to upgrade their spring facilities, but communities are eligible only if they sign contracts with their Major League Baseball teams that include a funding match and long-term lease.

Fort Lauderdale and the Orioles, who have a lease to play at Fort Lauderdale Stadium through next spring, must agree by Dec. 28 because the Florida Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development is scheduled to decide on Jan. 2 which communities will receive the money.

"We are continuing to pursue the Fort Lauderdale option," Stetka said. "We have been moving in that direction for several years and we are hopeful of getting the necessary agreement in place within the timeframe for state funding."

If the decision is not reversed, the Orioles could become more interested in pursuing another location, such as Dodgertown; however, Stetka said the attention is centered on Fort Lauderdale at this time.

White said Vero Beach would be an ideal place for an East Coast team like the Orioles, but the city and county would look into any interest shown from a Major League Baseball team.

"I think the best thing for the city and county is to work together to attract another team," White said. "We need the economic impact a team would bring."

Florida Grapefruit League Association Executive Director David Cardwell said there could be some setbacks for Vero Beach getting a replacement team just because of the interest so many teams are showing in new facilities.

"One of the problems with Dodgertown is that while it has a lot of history, it has a lot of Dodgers history, and teams don't like to move into other teams' facilities," Cardwell said.

White didn't think that would cause anyone to look past Dodgertown, even though it has been home to the Dodgers since 1948.

"The Dodgertown complex is one of the nicest in Florida," White said. "Most facilities have two ball fields and we have five. We offer a lot, and we have a good training facility. ... I don't think we will have a problem filling a team."

Indian River County Administrator Joe Baird has received messages from a number of different groups -- not just baseball teams -- but said he will not look into them until after the holidays. He said the county also has an interest in the Orioles.

"The decision would go to the commissioners, but I can say we would definitely be interested if they were," Baird said. "We will know more after the new year."


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I really hope this doesn't happen.

I want Peter Angelo's gone from Baltimore, not my Orioles.

We have sucked for some time now, but, there is quite a heritage. Players like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, etc.

I will be very sad that day.. :(

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