C’mon…whom the South Florida politicians are kidding that are sad and crushed with the departure of the Baltimore Orioles from Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
“It’s very, very dissapointing to see a tremendous era of spring training end”, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Selier said. “It’s a sad day”.
Yeah, right. Since 2004, the team has been on a year-to-year lease with the City of Fort Lauderdale. Every time a possible discussion for a long term deal was brought to the table by the Orioles there was always some type of road block.
Finally after so much, should I stay or should I go, the franchise is relocating to the state’s west coast. The City of Sarasota and its county approved a $31.2 million renovation and expansion of Ed Smith Stadium, which hosted the Cincinnati Reds from 1998 to 2009. Also renovations were approved for the Twin Lakes Park, the new Orioles’ full time minor league complex.
The Orioles are expected to be in Sarasota next February.
In this side south side of the Sunshine State a big deal have been made now that it will be without a major league team in the spring for the first time in 60 years.
Let’s not forget long time ago Fort Lauderdale was home for the New York Yankees for 33 seasons before they went off to Tampa in 1995.
One year later, in 1996, Fort Lauderdale became the spring training home of the Birds franchise. Since that opening year you could hear the rumbles of problems between the two sides. It look the marriage was not going to be a long one.
It is true the nowadays Orioles are not even close to those of the late 90’s anchored by Cal Ripken Jr. and other big name stars such as Roberto Alomar, Mike Mussina and many, many others.
However no matter the Orioles product, the City of Fort Lauderdale never show a commitment and effort to keep them for a long time in town.
Let’s not forget either they are the same politicians never wanted to build a home for the Florida Marlins. Hey, no sorrow and complaints now that they will be the Miami Marlins in 2012.
Fort Lauderdale should not cry. The truth is they never like the baseball business in their backyard.
Cheers to Sarasota. The Orioles will have a spring training home there for the next 30 years.
Bye, Bye Orioles.
NOTE: The author covered the Baltimore Orioles from 1997 to 2008. Thanks Bill Stetka for your support to the international media.