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Professional baseball on verge of return to Vero Beach's Dodgertown BY A STAFF WRITER (Week of April 16, 2009)

Don’t look now but, but professional baseball game appears about to make a return to Vero Beach.

County officials are planning to hold a news conference on Wednesday, where they are expected to unveil the new tenant to take over the Dodgertown complex. 

One thing's for sure: It won't be a major league team coming for spring training.

Though officials are staying tight-lipped about who it might be, Vero Beach 32963 has learned that Minor League Baseball, with headquarters in St. Petersburg, is expected to be the new Dodgertown tenant and that it will conduct activities here year-round.

Minor league baseball provides administrative oversight of almost all minor league baseball leagues in the country. The organization also runs umpiring schools and camps as well as baseball’s Winter Meetings.

A spokesman for Minor League Baseball has admitted in the past that the county and his organization have had “on-going” discussions.

To meet the county’s goal of having a full-time baseball operation at Dodgertown, Minor League Baseball would likely have to be considering expanding its operations. Among ideas floated that would increase Minor League Baseball’s reach have been hosting baseball tournaments and player development camps, some involving foreign athletes.

The county has also entertained holding college and high school tournaments primarily during Spring Break.

“You might not see 9,000 people like you did when the Red Sox came to town,” said one official, “but if you take the totality of what will be coming over time you will be getting more use out of the facility.”

One option that does appear dead is bringing the United Football League. The Casa Grande in Arizona has reached a tentative deal with a local resort to provide the practice space for the UFL in its initial season.