Holman Stadium (Vero Beach)
|Field dimensions||Left - 340 ft.
Center - 400 ft.
Right - 340 ft.
Holman Stadium is a baseball stadium in Vero Beach, Florida, built in 1953 from an abandoned Naval base, to accommodate spring training for the Dodgers as part of a complex called Dodgertown. In addition to the Dodgers' spring games, it was also the home of the Vero Beach Devil Rays, previously the Vero Beach Dodgers, of the Florida State League, through the 2008 season. Official seating capacity is 6,500.
The Brooklyn Dodgers were one of the first major league baseball teams to conduct spring training in Florida, establishing their operations in this quiet beachside town in 1948. Previously an abandoned Naval base, the complex was transformed for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers, and as of 1958, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodgertown and Holman Stadium served as their spring home for more than 60 years. In recent decades, Arizona has established itself alongside Florida as the second major center for spring baseball, and the Dodgers were the last western team to still conduct its spring training in Florida.
In 2001, the Dodgers seriously considered moving their spring training operations to Arizona, but the city of Vero Beach persuaded them to stay by purchasing the Dodgertown complex from the team and leasing it back for $1 per year. In 2006, the Dodgers again received offers from several Arizona cities, attempting to persuade them to move. The Dodgers will have to repay much of the money Vero Beach laid out to purchase the complex, but the Arizona offers were too lucrative to overcome this obstacle. With the Camelback Ranch opening in Glendale, Arizona in 2009, the Dodgers joined the Chicago White Sox to share operations of the new facility. The Dodgers' last spring training game in Vero Beach was on March 17, 2008.
Holman is unique for its open-air dugouts that are literally dug out along the sides of the field. These may have been the inspiration for the dugouts in Johnny Hart's B.C. comic strip. "This place is so different from any other park," states George Betscha, a batboy at Dodgertown from 2005-2008. "There is so much history here and you can feel it when you walk around."
In addition to baseball, the Holman Stadium complex and conference center have hosted training sessions by the New Orleans Saints, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Hurricanes, the Chunichi Dragons of Japan, the Osaka Buffbaloes (Japan) and the LG Twins from Korea. The Saints held training camp in Vero Beach during July and August ten of the eleven years between 1974 and 1984.
The city is exploring other options outside of Major League Baseball spring training. Reports surfaced in 2009 that the Major League Baseball Players Association was considering Holman Stadium as an alternate training site for players who entered the spring as unsigned free agents. But the MLBPA decided not to go forward with the plan.
As of 2013, nearby Dodgertown Elementary School has not changed its name.
The United Football League expressed an early interest in using the Dodgertown facility as a training and practice grounds, but no agreement to do so was ever reached. During the final (2012) season, each team utilized a training site in or near its home market.
- Vero Beach's Dodgertown page
- Ballpark Digest visit to Holman Stadium
- Holman Stadium Views - Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues
- ESPN feature on the history and Charm of Dodgertown
- Farewell, Dodgertown
- Spring Training Online feature
- "Holman Stadium Dedication". Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "Update: Pro Football". The Ledger. 1985-04-03. p. 2D.