McCourt says new spring home on track

McCourt says new spring home on track for '09

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The Dodgers are "on track" for their anticipated 2009 move into new Spring Training facilities in Arizona, club chairman Frank McCourt said Saturday.

McCourt also said the club spent the offseason addressing fans' parking and traffic concerns at Dodger Stadium, where he reiterated he is committed to keep the team "for at least 25 years and I suspect much longer."

Speaking with reporters at Dodgertown, McCourt said the move of his Spring Training headquarters to a Glendale, Ariz., complex to be shared with the Chicago White Sox is on track and it should be known in three to six months whether the "fan-friendly" facility will be completed in time for the 2009 Spring Training.

"It's not 100 percent final, but I would say it's very likely," he said, even if the White Sox cannot escape their lease in Tucson in time to occupy the shared compound. "That's totally unrelated. There's nothing I see on the horizon in the category of something that would hold up the deal."

He said the decision to choose an architect is in the final stages and that the design will reflect the "history, tradition and unique features of Dodgertown," the club's Spring Training site for 60 years. That includes the relatively easy access fans have with players.

"I don't see why we can't duplicate that," he said. "We're trying to capture some of the aura and history of Dodgertown and bring it to Glendale. It's a challenge, and certain things you can't do. It's no different than when the team moved from Brooklyn to L.A. There were some things you can take, like home plate, and some things you can't take."

The Dodgers and the local government in Vero Beach and Indian River County reached an agreement on the Dodgertown property that allows the Dodgers to break their lease while waiving their option to purchase the property. The agencies involved have not decided whether to pursue another team or develop the property.

McCourt, whose family bought the club from News Corp. three years ago, said that Thursday's rained out game with Boston, in which a record Holman Stadium crowd swelled with fans of the visiting team, was evidence in support of moving the team closer to California for Spring Training.

"At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for the fans," he said. "At yesterday's game, Dodgers fans were in the huge minority. This is the last vestige of the Brooklyn Dodgers. We will do this [leave] with class and dignity and make sure we show the respect to this long-term relationship that it should get."

As for Dodger Stadium, McCourt said the ongoing renovation this offseason included infrastructure work in preparation for next offseason's expansion of the concourses and an overhaul of traffic flow into and out of the Dodger Stadium parking lot that will go into effect this year.

He said the number of lot attendants will be doubled and the traffic patterns that have existed relatively unchanged since the stadium opened 45 years ago will be changed, with new signs and lights and the renaming or renumbering of lots.

McCourt said parking was one of three major projects his new ownership undertook based on fan input. The other two are stadium seats, which have all been replaced, and long concession lines, which he said will be resolved next year with the expansion of the concourses and doubling of concession stands and restroom facilities.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.