01/06/09 12:41 PM EST
Marlins, MLB to open youth academy
Baseball facility is part of deal for club's new stadium
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
With the Marlins closer than ever to finalizing remaining documents on their ballpark, the league is stepping forward with its commitment for the academy in Hialeah, which is north of downtown Miami.
On Wednesday afternoon, a news conference will be held at 3:30 p.m. ET to officially announce the academy.
As soon as final documents on the Marlins' stadium are finalized, the Hialeah academy also will also become a reality.
"This academy is contingent on a [Marlins] stadium happening," Marlins president David Samson said. "Once a stadium is happening, this academy is a done deal. There are agreements already in place. It's going to really be a huge benefit to everyone down here."
Expected to attend Wednesday's news conference is MLB president Bob DuPuy, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, along with Samson and other Marlins officials.
The youth academy will be similar to the one that broke ground five years ago in Compton, Calif.
The Marlins have been in on-going negotiations with commissioners from the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to finalize the remaining documents that would complete a 37,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium on the Orange Bowl grounds of the Little Havana section of Miami.
A vote by the commissioners is expected on Jan. 22.
"As part of these stadium negotiations, we have always said the only way we want to move forward [on the academy] is if MLB and Hialeah will agree to work with the Marlins to build the greatest academy in the country, comparable to what is in Compton," Samson said.
"We are so confident that South Florida is the perfect place for this type of baseball academy because of all of the players down here, and the 12 months a year that baseball is played down here. This academy will be a tremendous benefit to the people of South Florida, and to the kids of South Florida, more importantly."
The academy in Compton has received national exposure through events that have been televised, as well as numerous youth tournaments and other events. Last weekend, it played host to a wood bat tournament, which featured players from across the country.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.