Why a women’s locker room at the Dodgers’ spring home is turning into a legal fight

A groundsman prepares the pitchers mound before a spring training game between the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs in March.
A groundsman prepares the pitchers mound before a spring training game between the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs in March. A legal squabble is brewing over who should be responsible for providing locker rooms for women at Camelback Ranch.
(Adam Bow / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Two years ago, the San Francisco Giants named Alyssa Nakken as the first full-time female coach in major league history. By this year, more than a dozen women were on the field throughout the major and minor leagues, as managers, coaches and umpires.

The women needed somewhere to dress. In 2021, Major League Baseball mandated that teams provide separate locker rooms for women — in the majors, the minors and spring training.

Who pays for those locker rooms?

That question is at the heart of a dispute at Camelback Ranch, the spring training home of the Dodgers. For the Arizona city that built Camelback Ranch at no charge to the Dodgers and their co-tenants, the Chicago White Sox, there is a larger question: Should we continue to love sports if sports won’t love us back?


Clayton Kershaw may be coming back to the Dodgers with an attitude that is better for his game. He’s expected to sign a one-year contract.

Nov. 11, 2022

Camelback Spring Training, the venture jointly formed by the teams to run the facility, and the White Sox demanded Nov. 4 that the city of Glendale, Ariz., submit to binding arbitration over the locker room issue.

For now, city manager Kevin Phelps said, the White Sox want the city to pay $200,000 for a women’s locker room. Phelps said he anticipates the Dodgers will submit a similar demand.

Camelback Ranch general manager Matt Slatus declined to comment. But the lease for the Dodgers and White Sox appears clear: The teams pay for maintenance, and the city pays for renovations, specifically including “changes or improvements to the facility to meet … the requirements of Major League Baseball.”

In correspondence between the city and Camelback Ranch, obtained by The Los Angeles Times through a public records request, Slatus said the city has not formally explained why the renovations planned by the White Sox would not work or proposed an alternative plan. In response, the city invited the White Sox to complete their plan at their expense.

Phelps told The Times the city believes the White Sox can reorganize their facility to provide a locker room space for women without the need for costly capital improvements. However, Glendale officials have not shown how that can be accomplished, Camelback Ranch and the White Sox alleged in the demand for arbitration.

Angels owner Arte Moreno may have to pay the tab for upgrades at Angel Stadium if the Anaheim City Council approves a study that shows it needs it.

Nov. 11, 2022

If the matter proceeds to an arbitration hearing, Phelps said the city would argue in part that it should not be responsible for expenses that could not have been reasonably foreseen when the lease was signed in 2007. As late as 2018, there were no women in on-field coaching positions in the majors or minors, the Wall Street Journal reported this year.


To Phelps, the locker room issue is an example of how the relationship between the city and the teams is out of balance.

“It seems to be such a one-sided relationship,” he said.

The city borrowed $200 million to build Camelback Ranch; the Dodgers and White Sox each pay $1 per year to use it.

That might be a decent investment when tourists flock to the Cactus League, and the city generates taxes from packed hotels and restaurants and shops, but the last three springs have been a financial disaster: the pandemic canceled half of spring training in 2020, the teams played with limited attendance in 2021, and the owners’ lockout killed half of spring training in 2022.

MLB offered no compensation to cities that had built spring palaces at no cost to teams, Phelps said, and in the meantime, the Dodgers and White Sox kept asking the city to pay for furnishings. At one point, he said, the city was asked to pay $250 to replace a chair in a clubhouse.

Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen underwent right shoulder surgery to repair his labrum and rotator cuff. The procedure often requires 10 months of rehabilitation.

Nov. 11, 2022

“Ultimately, what I would be hopeful for is that our two teams, which are important partners for us, would acknowledge they have got a great situation, that the city of Glendale and its citizens built them a phenomenal facility,” Phelps told the City Council last week. “We get $1 a year, so we can’t go much lower on the lease.”

According to Sportico, the Dodgers led MLB in revenue last year, with an estimated $540 million. The White Sox generated an estimated $273 million in revenue. From where he sits, the teams ought to be able to help a small town and pay for the locker rooms themselves, no matter what the lease might say.


“I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of the teams,” he told The Times. “I’m frustrated. There is nothing worse than somebody who doesn’t recognize a good situation, and we feel they have the best situation, and yet it’s never enough.

“And, when it’s never enough, it’s to the point you start pushing back.”