VERO BEACH -- Five years and 5 1/2 months after the Los Angeles Dodgers departed Dodgertown for the final time, they've come back.
In name, anyway.
The Peter O'Malley-led partnership that operates the Indian River County-owned sports complex announced Thursday it has received approval from the Dodgers and Major League Baseball to use the name, "Historic Dodgertown."
The facility, where the Dodgers had conducted spring training for 61 years before moving their camp to Arizona in 2009, had been rebranded the Vero Beach Sports Village in February 2010. The Minor League Baseball group that began leasing and running the complex in May 2009 wanted to keep the Dodgertown name, but the team's then-owner, Frank McCourt, refused.
Then O'Malley showed up.
The former Dodgers owner returned to Vero Beach in November 2011 as the chairman of a new, five-way partnership that included: his sister, Terry Seidler; former Dodgers pitchers Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park; and Minor League Baseball. Shortly after his arrival, he began his efforts to restore some semblance of the Dodgertown name.
It was during the past year -- after McCourt sold the Dodgers to the Guggenheim Group, which includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten -- that O'Malley convinced the team's new owners of the benefits of returning the Dodgertown name to a place once considered America's quintessential spring-training town.
The then-Brooklyn Dodgers began training in Vero Beach in 1948. The Los Angeles Dodgers played their final Grapefruit League game at Holman Stadium on St. Patrick's Day 2008.
County officials, trying to save spring training in Vero Beach, unsuccessfully courted the Baltimore Orioles in 2010.