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Dodgers' spring home is 'state of the art'

Dodgers' spring home is 'state of the art'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Any Spring Training facility would be hard pressed to compete with the history of Dodgertown, Los Angeles' home for 61 years in Vero Beach, Fla.

But what the Dodgers' new Spring Training home in Glendale, set to open in 2009, lacks in nostalgic value it will make up for by being pleasing to the eye, functional and the best of its kind, according to Craig Callan, the Dodgers' vice president of Spring Training and Minor League facilities, while leading a tour of the site on Friday.

"This is state of the art," Callan said. "We spent a lot of extra time and budget to make this the best building in baseball."

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Although construction crews did not start breaking ground on the site until Nov. 19, Callan said the facility will be ready to use by Spring Training 2009 when the Dodgers move into the complex they will share with the White Sox, who may or may not join them as permanent tenants in 2009 because of issues getting out of their lease at Tucson Electric Park.

The $80 million complex will include six full practice fields and two half fields per team besides the main stadium, which will feature 13,000 seats, including 3,000 grass berm outfield seats, 12 suites, five concession buildings, 4,000 parking spaces and titled walls.

There also will be a two-acre water feature/lake in the complex that contains reclaimed water and local architectural features, a Walk of Fame for the Dodgers and White Sox that leads to the main stadium and 130,000 square feet of clubhouse space.

Although the club's history will be honored with the Walk of Fame, the Dodgers did not want to make their Glendale home Dodgertown West.

"You do a disservice to Dodgertown and here if you try to replicate it," Callan said.

Mortenson Construction has been working double shifts six days per the week at the site covering 152 acres at Camelback Road and 107th Avenue to complete it on time, with Callan saying the crew is doing an 18-month job in about 13 months by having work being done 20 hours per day, with an average of 350 people working per day.

"You've got to give these guys a lot of credit," said Callan, who added the crew is right on schedule. "You don't build something this nice without a lot of dedicated people."

Project executive Tom Harrison estimated the project is 45 percent complete, with all of the underground parts of the structure being finished. The Dodgers practice fields are expected to be done in two months, and the construction on the stadium field is slated to start in October.

Although construction costs around the nation have been rising as the costs of materials have gone up, which Harrison acknowledged is a major issue in construction during these tough economic times, he said buying materials in bulk before these increases has kept the complex on schedule economically.

Callan said the Dodgers, who officially terminated their lease at the Vero Beach site on July 10, knew it was time to leave Florida by checking with the fan base, who can attend games much easier at the Arizona site.

When the team saw Vero Beach attendance affected by whom the Dodgers were playing, with fans coming to see Los Angeles' opponent instead of the Dodgers, they knew it was time to move west.

Now they hope to start a new tradition in the Cactus League.

"This is our home for the future," Callan said. "We want to make Glendale the home for future Dodgers."

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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