Minor League Baseball has apparently found a solution to its financial problems at Vero Beach Sports Village, at the same time infusing a bit of history and new investors into the former Dodgertown complex in Florida.
Minor League Baseball announced today that it has formed a partnership with former Dodgers president Peter O’Malley and his sister Terry Seidler, along with former Dodgers pitchers Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park. Each of the five entities will have an equal stake in the Vero Beach complex, which Minor League Baseball has been operating at a loss as a training and sports destination facility for the past two and a half years.
The deal requires approval by officials from Indian River County, which owns the complex and leases it to Minor League Baseball.
"This combined effort of Minor League Baseball, the O'Malley and Seidler families and members of our extended baseball family will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Vero Beach Sports Village," O'Conner said in a release. "Peter O'Malley and his family have a long and storied history in Vero Beach and baseball in general, both domestically and internationally.”
The Vero Beach complex has been among the key pieces of O’Conner’s vision to expand the minor league brand. He previously described it as “an institutional hub for us that I think long-term would be a huge asset to Minor League Baseball. My concern is can we weather (economic struggles) to get to the other side.”
O’Conner had been entertaining offers from potential investors this summer before agreeing to terms with the O’Malley-led group. The new partnership could provide a financial boost for the facility, which has failed to turn a profit since Minor League Baseball took over its operations in May 2009. MiLB pays $1 a year to lease the complex but covers the roughly $100,000 a month it costs to operate it.
Since taking over operations, Minor League Baseball has been faced with a sour economy and an unsuccessful battle with the Dodgers over the right to use the Dodgertown name, leading to the Vero Beach Sports Village moniker. The facility operated at a $1 million loss last year and was on pace to lose another $500,000 in 2011, O’Conner has said. It was running at capacity for most of the summer and O’Conner has said it has “turned a corner” in its operation.
Adding Park and Nomo could also help the facility attract more international teams to use it as a training base. The SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization have been holding their winter camp at Vero Beach since the beginning of November.
"Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo provide insight from a player's perspective, as well as enormous credibility in Asia and the Pacific Rim,” O’Conner said. “We believe this new partnership will enhance our ability to utilize the facility for local, domestic and international sports programs as we continue to attract an array of visitors."