GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt erased months of doubt Wednesday when he promised the club’s move to a new state-of-the-art spring-training complex in Arizona will take place next year as planned.
“The facility will absolutely be ready for us for next spring training,” McCourt said after a four-hour meeting with officials from Glendale, Ariz., the construction company, architects and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, whose team will share the $80-million complex. “All systems are go and the facility is going to be everything we expected.”
McCourt said the Dodgers need to move into the complex before pitchers and catchers report to camp in mid-February. But uncertainties about the construction schedule had threatened to delay completion of the facility, which could have sent the Dodgers back for an encore season in Vero Beach, Fla., their spring home for the last six decades. However, after receiving assurances from Thomas Harrison, an executive for Mortenson Construction, McCourt said he will contact officials in Florida’s Indian River County and tell them the team will be opting out of its lease to train there through 2021.
According to an agreement between the Dodgers and the county, McCourt has until Monday to make that call.
“I made a commitment to Frank that we would be ready,” Harrison said. “That’s something we’ve [previously] been unable to do.”
Harrison said the main stadium is taking shape. The foundation has been poured, steel columns have been set and work on the outfield walls and dugouts is complete.
“Many of the concerns that anybody had were only about getting the facility done on time. I’m happy to report that all those concerns are alleviated as of today,” McCourt said as he waited in a lounge at Glendale Municipal Airport for his flight back to Southern California. “Today’s meeting really clarified a lot for us and answered our questions. I feel very, very comfortable about where the project team is right now.
“There’s nothing like having people look you in the eye and tell you with great certainty that you don’t have to worry, we’re going to get it done. And that’s what happened today.”
The Dodgers spent the last week training at the Oakland Athletics’ facility in nearby Phoenix and drew standing-room-only crowds to five of their six exhibition games in Arizona. Scalpers selling tickets for their first game were reportedly asking $200 a seat.
“The outpouring of support that we received in this last week is just real evidence of how successful this move is going to be and how it’s going to be embraced by the fans,” McCourt said. “And that was very reassuring to see that this week.”
Seanez might retire
Rudy Seanez, who was released by the Dodgers on Tuesday night, said that he will retire if he doesn’t have an enticing offer in hand by Sunday. Seanez, a 39-year-old reliever, broke into the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1989.
Seanez said that his agent already has received calls from other clubs, but added, “It has to be something where I’m going to be a good fit.”
Seanez received news of his release on the night the Dodgers returned to Los Angeles from Phoenix. Seanez said he was approached by General Manager Ned Colletti and assistant GM Kim Ng while taking his bags from the team bus to his car in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
Though Seanez pitched in a career-high 73 games last season, he said he wasn’t surprised that he didn’t make the opening-day roster. The Dodgers told his agent early in the off-season that they were interested in re-signing him, but waited until February to sign him to a non-guaranteed contract.
“I didn’t have a real good feeling about it,” Seanez said.
With traffic around the Coliseum expected to be heavy for the Dodgers’ exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, the club is offering fans free parking at Dodger Stadium and complimentary shuttle service to and from the Coliseum. To reserve spots on the shuttles, which run from 11 a.m. until two hours after the game, fans must call (323) 224-1507.
Parking also will be available at Exposition Park and USC for $25, but the lots are expected to fill quickly.
Dodgers vs. Angels
Tonight at Angel Stadium,
7, FSN West.
Starting pitchers: Derek Lowe (Dodgers) and
Jon Garland (Angels).