For more than half a century, Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL has been the training grounds of future Hall of Famers and the starting point to several generations of Dodger ballplayers.
The 2006 Spring Training season marks the Dodgers' 59th year at Dodgertown and the 54th season of Holman Stadium, which opened in 1953.
With the renovations that took place before the 2003 season, Dodgertown is now sporting a new look following a major project to upgrade the facility, including a multi-use 30,000-square foot building erected beyond the right-field fence at Holman Stadium. The building includes a Major League clubhouse, a 1,200-square foot physical therapy/weight room, meeting rooms, a video room, press room, kitchen, doctor's offices and executive and administration offices. In addition, four indoor batting/pitching tunnels, six pitching mounds and a bunting area were also added as part of the renovation.
Aerial view of Dodgertown
The Dodgers first set up camp in Vero Beach in 1948 at the invitation of local businessman Bud Holman after the city needed a tenant to occupy the former World War II naval air station. For his efforts, the Dodgers named their spring training stadium after Holman. The 6,500-seat Holman Stadium opened on March 11, 1953 against the Philadelphia Athletics.
The original concept of Dodgertown was to provide a classroom environment for players and coaches with enough land so personnel could discuss baseball at any point in the day. Because there were so many Dodger minor league ball clubs, many affiliates and working groups were assigned different colored uniforms to help keep drills and other daily itineraries on schedule.
Dodgertown has undergone many changes through the years since 1948 when 600 players participated in the first Spring Training at the complex. A modern 90-unit housing facility replaced the old military barracks in 1972. A 23,000 square-foot administration building was constructed in 1974 on the site of the former headquarters building. The structure includes two clubhouses, medical department, dining room, kitchen, main lobby, broadcasting studio, photo dark room, interview room, lounge, media workroom, two training rooms, two equipment rooms and a commercial laundry room.
In 1990, Dodgertown unveiled a new 15,000 square-foot, multi-purpose building that houses four indoor batting tunnels, an exercise room containing the latest in training equipment, a video room to be used by Dodger instructors as a teaching area and baseball administrative offices for Dodger executives during Spring Training. The offices are also used as meeting rooms for conferences throughout the year.
A full crowd at Holman Stadium
Dodger personnel also have the use of a swimming pool, basketball court, four all-weather tennis courts, game room and movie theater.
Dodgertown was the only privately owned training camp in the country, which includes 45 residences on the golf course perimeter and a conference center. Since 1965, the Dodgers have purchased 450 acres from the city of Vero Beach. On Aug. 30, 2001, the local community of Indian River County and the City of Vero Beach purchased the 60-plus acres of baseball-related land for $19 million. Portions of the funding were used for the recent renovation.
In 2001, Dodgertown became the hub of the minor league organization with virtually year-round baseball activities. In addition to Spring Training, the facility is home to the Single-A Vero Beach Dodgers, extended spring training, June rookie camp, the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Dodgers and Fall Instructional League.
Dodgertown is also home to the Dodgers' minor league rehabilitation program. The program services players throughout the organization who are sent to rehabilitate various injuries.
Dodgertown remains open throughout the year as a conference center. The conference center is designed to provide the proper environment for business meetings and the most intensive learning objectives. There are 20 specially designed meeting rooms, featuring the latest in audio-visual equipment. The recreation program includes golf, tennis, baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball and jogging trails. Dodgertown has more than 250 employees and can accommodate up to 180 conferees.
International visits have become a tradition at Dodgertown. The Dodgers have hosted a professional team from Asia on 13 different occasions. Most recently the Osaka Buffaloes of the Japanese League trained at Dodgertown in the fall of 2003 for the second consecutive year. The Samsung Lions professional baseball team from Taegu, Korea trained at Dodgertown in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997. In addition to the Lions' five visits, the Tokyo Giants trained in Vero Beach in 1961, 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1981. The Chunichi Dragons from Nagoya, Japan trained at Dodgertown in 1988. The Sinon Bulls became the first Taiwanese team to train at Dodgertown when they began a week of workouts in February 1999.
In February 1996, the Dodgers welcomed a baseball team from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea, marking the first time a Korean university team trained in the United States and the second time overall an amateur college team trained at Dodgertown. Waseda University, one of Japan's leading universities, was the first university to join Dodger players and staff at Vero Beach in 1995.
The Dodgers have also entertained representatives from all over the world, including hosting the Nigerian National Youth Team in 1992.
Dodgertown has been utilized as training grounds by numerous NFL teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles in preparation for the playoffs in 1995, the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. Dodgertown became the home to the University of Miami football team prior to its regular season opener after Hurricane Andrew devastated the Florida coast in 1993. The Ohio State Buckeyes trained at Dodgertown prior to the 1995 Citrus Bowl.
The 2005 season will mark the 26th year that Vero Beach has served as the summer home of the Dodgers' Single-A Florida State League affiliate. In one of the smallest towns in the country with a professional baseball club (population 17,350), the Vero Beach Dodgers set the club attendance record after drawing 95,300 fans over 63 home games in 1991. Holman Stadium was the site of the 1991 Florida State League All-Star Game.
Since 1983, Dodgertown has also hosted the twice-yearly Dodgers Adult Baseball Camps, featuring instruction from Dodger stars of the past.