USF close to decision on holding football practice at Dodgertown

VERO BEACH — Officials at Vero Beach Sports Village and the University of South Florida are expected to reach a decision soon on the Division 1-A school holding part of its pre-season football practice at Dodgertown.

The talks have been going on for months, but are reaching a tipping point as the Bulls open practice Aug. 6.  School officials were scheduled to visit the Dodgertown facility this week and reach a decision within days.

A source close to the negotiations has said the school had agreed in principal to use the complex, but the details had not been worked out and there is no formal agreement.


The school reportedly is considering a two-week trip to Vero Beach between when summer classes end on Aug. 6 and fall classes begin on Aug. 23.

The return of football to Dodgertown would be another piece to the puzzle of making Dodgertown a year-round operation. The facility thus far has hosted college and high school spring baseball tournaments, lacrosse and soccer camps, umpiring schools and fantasy camps since Minor League Baseball began running the facility last year.

In the past Dodgertown has hosted camps by the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Hurricanes. The Saints held training camp in Vero Beach during July and August 10 of the 11 years between 1974 and 1984.

The visit by USF to Dodgertown would be the first off-campus  pre-season practice by the school, which is the ninth-largest university in the nation.

The Bulls are coming off an 8-5 season, capped by a 27-3 International Bowl victory over Northern Illinois.

It will be the first camp for Coach Skip Holtz, son of coaching legend Lou Holtz. Skip Holtz took over for Jim Leavitt, who was fired last January for reportedly physically abusing a player and then attempting a cover-up.

The Bulls, who play in the Big East Conference, open the season Sept. 4 at home against Stony Brook.

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