FROM THE DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU... FILE
In today's Lakeland Ledger there was a Letter to the Editor from Cleveland Indians President Paul Dolan, a generally nice piece thanking the people of Winter Haven and various organizations for their support over their soon-to-be 14 years of spring training in the area. Next year (2008) will likely be the last season for the Tribe in Polk County, as the City of Goodyear, Arizona has approved a plan to build a state-of-the-art yearround training facility for the Major League Baseball team.
In his letter published today, Dolan writes:
The determination to relocate to Goodyear, Ariz., for a year-round training facility was, simply, a business decision. Just as the city of Winter Haven's wish to develop the Lake Lulu property that currently houses the Indians Spring Training Complex and Chain of Lakes Park is simply a business decision.
While it's no secret that the City of Winter Haven has wanted for some time to make the valuable property at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and U.S. 17 that houses Chain of Lakes Stadium and the Orange Dome into a commercial development for the tax revenues it would likely bring, it is also no secret that the city has also attempted to work with the Indians to find a site which would be developed into a suitable training facility using city, county, and state tourism money. But there was a catch: The team would also have to contribute financially to the deal, something they were unwilling to do. They simply wanted a free ride, which they are apparantly getting in the Phoenix suburb.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with getting the best deal you can get. However, if you're truly serious in being part of a community over the long term, you need to be prepared to invest in every way --- including financially --- to show that you are not just talk and take...take...take. Maybe the folks in Arizona should be ready.
The reason that the relationship between Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers has been so positive over so many years is that it's much more of a partnership, and the team has much more of a year-round presence here.
And so it goes...