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Orioles’ future in Fort Lauderdale still murky

Here’s what we know about the Baltimore Orioles and spring training:

The team will return to Fort Lauderdale Stadium in 2009.

After that?

It’s anybody’s guess.

Negotiations among Indian River County and Vero Beach officials and the unnamed team -- but which everyone knows is the Orioles -- continued last week and ended with the officials agreeing to allow the team more time. City and county officials believe they’ve offered a fair package to the team to occupy Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

They issued a joint statement after the meetings saying:

We think we’ve gone as far as we can and the ball is now in the Club’s hands. Our understanding is that our offer will be discussed with the Club’s ownership for consideration and we look forward to hearing from them. We understand that the Club’s ownership needs a reasonable period of time to review and consider our offer. We believe it is in everyone’s interest that the Club be given that time.

Read the Vero Beach Press Journal’s account here.

My favorite part of that story is that officials still refuse to name the team, but Indian River County Commissioner Wesley Davis is quoted as saying he’d like the issue resolved: "I would have preferred to have heard the deal was done and go out and buy my Orioles hat," Davis told the paper.

For their part, the Orioles have been keeping with their tradition of not saying a word publicly.

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale officials still hold out hope the team will make a long-term commitment to Fort Lauderdale Stadium. In July, the FAA issued a letter saying it would not exempt the team from having to pay $1.3 million annually for use of the stadium property for the upkeep of adjacent Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. In August, Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas sent the FAA a letter reminding officials their opinion wasn’t final and asking for agency to issue its final verdict on the matter. He still hasn't heard back.

Neither the city nor Broward County will contribute to the $1.3 million payment, but city and county officials have met to discuss the team’s future in Fort Lauderdale beyond 2009. At this point, they say it’s still up to the FAA.

“We’re hoping the FAA changes their decision on allowing the land to be continued for a stadium,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle said. “We’re deadlocked right now.”

Categories: MLB (110), Spring Training (11)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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