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Longtime Dodgertown GM Callan still on job after takeover

Photo: Craig Callan

As longtime Dodgertown general manager and Historic Dodgertown vice president Craig Callan put it: “There’s no new me yet.”

In other words: Major League Baseball, which earlier this month took over Historic Dodgertown’s operations from the five-way partnership led by former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, hasn’t yet brought in anyone to run the place.

So Callan, who turns 70 in April, will remain in the job until Tony Reagins, MLB’s senior vice president for youth programs, hires his successor.

“I told Peter and Tony that, after 40 years here and leaving on the best of terms, I’m willing to do it as long as they need me – as long as they don’t need me too long,” Callan said last week. “They’re taking their time, making sure they get the right person to represent Major League Baseball in Vero Beach.

“Eventually, there will be a new CEO or VP or GM chosen to move the facility forward and oversee the changes that will be made,” he added.

Callan was planning to retire last April, but O’Malley asked him to postpone his departure and help with the transition to a new management team.

Reagins has said MLB will continue to bring in the camps, clinics and other activities already contracted through O’Malley’s group, then, over time, begin to move many of its youth baseball programs to Vero Beach.

Meanwhile, county officials are working on plans to renovate the first- and third-base concession stands at Holman Stadium – the initial phase of the renovations and physical improvements the county committed to provide in its 10-year lease with MLB.

According to the terms of the $1-per-year lease, which includes three five-year renewal options, MLB will invest $10 million in major renovations and improvements, which include new seats at Holman Stadium and an indoor training facility that will house an artificial-turf infield, batting cages and classrooms.

Using tourism-tax revenue and money from its capital reserve fund, the county will match MLB’s investment and also pay nearly $5 million to renovate the facility’s roofs, rebuild Holman Stadium’s concession stands and replace its press box – projects that were deferred during the recession years.

“We’re looking at having to replace more than 50 percent of the concession stands, so we’ll need to rebuild them, and we still have more design work to do on the press box,” County Administrator Jason Brown said last week.

As for the county’s efforts to purchase the former Dodgertown Golf Club property adjacent to the complex – a 35-acre parcel needed to guarantee MLB the additional 2,000 parking spaces promised in the lease – Brown said he believes the Vero Beach City Council is ready to sell the land.

“I think we finally have the votes,” Brown said, explaining that he believes Tony Young will join fellow councilman Lange Sykes and Mayor Harry Howle in approving the sale of the property for $2.45 million at next week’s City Council meeting.

Brown said county commissioners swayed Young by agreeing to give the city the right of first refusal “at fair market value” if MLB opts to not renew its lease after 10 years and the county decides to sell the golf-course property.

The county also is willing to accept a deed restriction prohibiting development of the property while MLB is leasing it, Brown said.

Brown said the county has committed to create a park-like environment by keeping the trees along 43rd Avenue, planting new trees on the property and building trails for walking and jogging.

The county might also use part of property for a stormwater treatment facility, he said.