INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — With the fate of the Vero Beach Sports Village hanging in the balance, the Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to hold a face-to-face meeting with the Vero Beach City Council to sort out issues holding up a land swap at the old Dodgertown facility.
Minor League Baseball Vice President Craig Callan told the commissioners if the issues are not resolved quickly it would likely mean shuttering the Sports Village.
MiLB is seeking a land swap between the county and Vero Beach at Dodgertown to build a cloverleaf of softball and little league fields it says is crucial to its business model of an all-sports venue.
“Delay means we can’t get out and do our sales and marketing which needs to begin to happen now for sales for next year and if that happens, we basically are out of business,” Callan said.
At issue for the commissioners are parking and access rights on some of the parcels of land involved in the swap and what was becoming an increasingly complicated series of stipulations for the county to remain in compliance or retain rights on land that would be used for parking and access to the cloverleaf.
“Looking at the medium term there is some possibility that Minor League Baseball won’t be here,” Commission Chair Bob Solari said. “And it seems we are left with a significant number of problems that have not been addressed or have not been taken care of.”
During the discussion it appeared a vote to allow County Attorney Alan Polackwich to move forward with the framework of the agreement that included the unresolved parking issues was going to go down to defeat.
Commissioners Solari, Peter O’Bryan and Joe Flescher were not in favor of moving forward, while commissioners Gary Wheeler and Wesley Davis, though not happy with the framework, were in favor of allowing the process to continue as is.
In a last ditch effort to keep the process moving, the commissioners, each of whom said they were in favor of Minor League Baseball building the cloverleaf, decided to request a face-to-face meeting between both elected bodies to resolve the outstanding matters as expeditiously as possible.
The commissioners considered asking for a meeting as soon as this week, but based on Sunshine Law requirements settled on asking for a meeting Jan. 4. The goal would be to come out of that meeting with the issues resolved to the point where Callan can send his staff out to begin to market the cloverleaf of fields to host softball and little league tournaments.
The Vero Beach City Council voted at its meeting Tuesday to accept the framework of the land swap before the county commissioners had settled upon asking for the meeting.
“If the decision is made they (the City Council and County Commissioners) can’t (resolve the outstanding issues) or that it is not worth the investment, Minor League Baseball needs to know,” Callan said.