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From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Where to?

I spoke John Allen this morning. He was in the Sarasota airport, but he had already gotten an e-mail from one person representing a potential spring training site for the Reds.

Allen didn't want to talk specific about where the Reds will go after Sarasota. My guess is they'll train there this spring and then be somewhere new for 2009.

"It's a blank canvas," Allen said. "We're open to all ideas."

I think you're looking at four scenarios: Vero Beach, Orlando, Lee County (near Fort Myers) or Arizona. I hope against hope that they wouldn't consider Winter Haven.

Where would you like to see them go? Personally I could live with Ed Smith Stadium. It's not great, but it's in Sarasota. For my money, none of other locations comes close. But Allen made it pretty clear the Reds aren't going to stay in Sarasota.

So where?


58 Comments:

at 12:01 PM Blogger baundy said...

I like Orlando personally, albeit for selfish reasons as well. The monster-in-law lives in Orlando, so it'd make visiting a little nicer if I had a short drive to see the Redlegs play. However, anywhere in Florida would suit me just fine. I'm hoping against hope that they don't go to Arizona.

 
at 12:03 PM Blogger baundy said...

I like Orlando personally, albeit for selfish reasons as well. The monster-in-law lives in Orlando and visiting with her would be a lot nicer if I would only have a short drive to see the Redlegs. However, anywhere in Florida would work for me. I'm hoping against hope that they don't go to Arizona.

 
at 12:07 PM Blogger doerr906 said...

Is Lee County the only facility on the gulf coast where the Reds could train?
Please, not Arizona!

 
at 12:29 PM Blogger docproc said...

Major bummer about leaving Sarasota. My son and I go there every spring and love it. Ed Smith Stadium has charm and character, as does the city of Sarasota. I wish they could figure out a way to stay...

 
at 12:33 PM Anonymous Greg said...

Hmm, John, what are your thoughts on a Reds move to Arizona? Are there existing facilities there that would fit their needs? Haven't other teams moved out of there in recent years.

Also, do you believe that the addition of Chris Spier will help Edwin Encarnacion cut down on his errors? Dusty seems to think so. I think he's going to be a valuable part of this team, if he can get his fielding straightened out. He hits in the clutch. You can't teach that.

 
at 12:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anywhere but Arizona. That would kill any thought of me visiting the Reds during Spring training.

Adrian

 
at 1:07 PM Blogger John Fay said...

I don' think they'll go to Arizona, but they're not going to rule it out. I heard it's a good place to see spring training because the teams are concentrated in a smaller area. I think Gulf Coast is best because of the number of locals who have relocated there. And it's drivable. But other than Lee Co., I don't know where they'd go.

 
at 1:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Sarasota was the best possible location, but its no longer an option then we have to look elsewhere. Vero is nice, but its Dodgertown and its on the east coast. If at all possible, try to find something on the Gulf coast so its convenient to I-75. Wherever it is it can absolutely not be in Arizona!!

 
at 1:19 PM Blogger Ron said...

I would be ok with Orlando too, my brother lives there so it would be a good excuse to visit. Plus it is centraly located in the middle of the state and makes it easier for everyone who lives down here to get to games. They just need to stay away from the Disney area.

 
at 1:29 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
What are the players opinions of Sarasota site? What changes did the Reds want to make outside of the "drainage"? Is there a feeling among the Reds brass if they head out to AZ that thye may lose a significant numbers of fans?

 
at 1:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, all you Arizona haters! I live in Mesa, and would LOVE to see the Reds come here. I'm a life-long (30+yrs) fan, and have never been able to see them play in Fla. I'll meet them at the airport, and help them unpack. Wow, getting to see them for an entire spring would be incredible. And, most of the facilities here are top notch. Scottsdale (home of the Giants), and Mesa (home of the Cubs) are as close to major league stadiums as you can get, but smaller. They are very nice, as is Surprise. All the other ones are ok, but these three stand alone. The only problem is, I don't know where the Reds would play. They'd have to piggyback with another team for a year or two until a facility is built. The nice thing about spring training here is the close proximity of the stadiums. You can see an afternoon game in Mesa, and a night game in Scottsdale, which is 20 minutes away! The longest drive between stadiums is about an hour; Tucson is about 90 minutes from Phoenix. And the weather is never a factor-it's always sunny and warm-no rain. Some of you should come out here, and watch some games. Give it a chance first before you shut it out.
Jim in AZ

 
at 1:55 PM Blogger John Fay said...

I never heard a player complain. I think that's the big question about Arizona: Would they draw as well? On the gulf coast with red sox, Yankees, phillies, you're guaranteed a certain number of big draws.

 
at 2:02 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
Any thoughts that the Reds might move back to St. Petersburg after the D-Rays move to Port Charlotte in 2009? There are fewer locations prettier than Al Lang Stadium! That to me would be the perfect scenario

 
at 2:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed from Petaluma, CA

Being that I live in Northern California. Would love to see the Reds move Spring training to Arizona. Weather is consistently better and most of the teams play closer to each other in Arizona.

 
at 2:24 PM Anonymous Scott said...

Vero Beach, the best place in Florida to watch spring training games. It will need upgrades, but the community loves baseball and would welcome the Reds with open arms. I'm a reds fan who has attended 1-2 Dodger/Vero games over the past 20 years. I don't care for the Dodgers, but you can't beat the location and history.

 
at 2:39 PM Blogger Dan H said...

I hope they stay in Florida as well. Sarasota/Siesta Key is a great area and for us Ed Smith was good enough to watch a game. Vero or Lee County would be prefered not Orlando. The beach is a good draw in March. There is a local newspaper I read last spring called the Pelican Press (pelicanpress.org) which is available on line. I checked it out recently and they editorilized to vote no for the referendum but stated they would be in favor of a new Reds complex/convention center, hotel etc at the Sarasota fairgrounds on Fruitville Rd. Interesting, although I don't know how feasible this idea would be to keep the Reds in Sarasota. I guess the extra hour or so drive to Ft. Myers (after a 1280 mile drive now whats another 70 miles) would be better than having the driving option taken away to go to Arizona. The Lee County complex of the Twins does look great and something similar for the Reds can't hurt. Although this would give the Reds longer road trips as only the Twins and Red Sox are in that area and Tampa is close in Port Charlotte.

 
at 2:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as an Ohio transplant in Phoenix I gotta vote for AZ. I've been going to the spring training games for as long as I've lived here and its great. You can hit several parks in the same day, the weather is always fantastic that time of year, and I'll finally have a team to match my hat!

 
at 3:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would definately not mind staying in Ed Smith and the entire complex as is, just to be in Sarasota. Obviously, probably not an option financially and such, but Sarasota/Siesta Key is amazing to spend a week in March. The whole area is nice, and I personally dont mind the complex as is right now at all. STAY IN SARASOTA!!!!!!!!

 
at 3:51 PM Anonymous Joe M, Longwood said...

I say Orlando. I may be biased, as I live in Orlando, but having been born and raised in Cincy, I certainly miss the Reds. Plus, Griffey lives here, they could play in his backyard. I am sure it's big enough!

 
at 3:54 PM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

Does attendance really matter (to the Reds)? So long as they have a fancy new facility paid for by someone else and a comfortable commute, does the revenue make a real difference? There are what - 20 home S/T games?

I'd think the total revenue difference between a great location and a crappy one is less than what Juan Castro makes.

It would figure that they'd move to Arizona, after I just moved to Ohio after 8 years in San Diego.

 
at 4:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been to Sarasota the last five or six years and love it.

Since it's not an option, I would vote for Lee County, then Orlando, then Vero Beach and AZ last.

 
at 4:27 PM Blogger Brian said...

Been to both AZ and FL for various spring training games, and I have to admit, AZ is in a league of its own. The facilities out there are modern and beautiful, and NOTHING beats AZ weather in March - incredible. Its very nice to be able stay in a central location (Phoenix) and be able to easily travel from facility to facility in minutes. Plus, Phoenix is all-around a much more unique destination.

 
at 4:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not Point Barrow, Alaska? Maybe the weather there would be more motivational.

 
at 4:42 PM Blogger captainbiscuit said...

John, I'm really late to the party here, but why did they leave Plant City?

 
at 4:45 PM Blogger jumbo50 said...

I suggest Ft. Myers. I know there are alot of Cincinnatians that have homes down there. Plus the eateries and scenery are great.

 
at 4:53 PM Blogger CincyNativeInAZ said...

I think Arizona would be an excellent change of scenery for the team; gives us in the west an opportunity to see our team more than 3 games a year. You homers have them for 81 games a year.

There's at least one new complex being built in Goodyear; the new Spring Training home for Cleveland. Wouldn't that be something to have both Ohio teams in one facility?

It's the fourth complex for the West Valley. There's one in Surprise where the Rangers and Royals train, and another in Peoria for the Padres and Mariners. The Brewers are in Maryvale; a west Phoenix suburb. Those facilities are 20 - 30 minutes from Goodyear. In the metro area the Cubs, in Mesa, are probably the farthest away...less than an hour. The D'backs are in Tucson with the White Sox and Rockies.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority approved funding for a new complex in Glendale (home of the Cardinals, Coyotes, the upcoming Super Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and last year's BCS game). It's believed the Dodgers will be moving there with the White Sox.

It's really not that expensive to fly out here from the Cincy area. It is from GVG, but I fly into Dayton for less than $300 round trip.

Florida is old and overrated. Arizona is young and hip...mostly. A change of venue, a fresh start might do the team some good.

I'm with Jim in AZ...I'll meet them at Sky Harbor and help them unpack!

 
at 5:00 PM Blogger Pat said...

the reds need to come out to Arizona. Very few rain outs. The weather is unbelievable.

The D'backs will need a roommate at their facility when the White Sox move to Goodyear. There's an empty ballpark in Chandler, that the Brewers left, but I don't think there are any plans to upgrade it. One of the Indian reservations is interested in having a team. Players love it because move games are within a 30 minute drive of their hotel or condo.

Almost all the games get great attendance. Even the brewers.

We have everything you'd want, except for an ocean.

 
at 5:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

TREY IN PHOENIX...

MY HOME TOWN IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE CINCI. I THINK THE PHOENIX AREA HAS A LOT TO OFFER THE RED'S FOR SPRING TRAINING... AND, SINCE I NOW LIVE HERE, IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF HOME HERE TOO...

 
at 6:06 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

The St. Pete possibility is great, especially since the Reds trained for years and years in Tampa and have a long history of fan base in that area. But that training site also needs work.

I'm also guessing the Reds' declarations of immediate withdrawal from Sarasota might also be hardline posturing to get the situation resolved by city/county councils and/or state. Sure, the voters have spoken, but that's not always the end-now.

If the city wants spring training, it will find a way. And my guess is the potentially lost monies raised on taxes and economic development are a bigger factor than the councils care to lose.

Florida is already freaking a bit about the number of teams moving to Arizona. Sarasota would be another big loss.

Anybody seen the fine sampling of weeds growing in Plant City the past 10 years?

 
at 6:34 PM Blogger Pat said...

channel 12 in phoenix just did a report that considers the question of whether the Reds would make a good fit in goodyear with the Indians.

 
at 6:36 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe how many Arizona Haters there are making posts. Obviously not that many people from around here venture to AZ in the winter time? It is PARADISE! I've been to AZ and FL countless times in the winter and I'd take AZ 100% of the time. And i think anyone who has spent much time at either would agree. Better weather. Better people. Less expensive. Everything is NEW! Better EVERYTHING! Memo to yourself... check out AZ before hating it!

 
at 6:43 PM Anonymous The Dingo said...

Indoor Spring Training in NKY. It makes sense since everything else is moving there.

 
at 7:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should have spring training in Decatur, Illinois so I can go watch them after work, Screw Florida

 
at 8:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stay at the Ed. I'm sure AZ is nice, but a family can't drive there and there is no beach. Spring Training is about golf in the morning, baseball in the afternoon, tiki bars on the beach at night. Al Lang in St. Petersburg would also be a great location but I don't know where the practice fields are located.

 
at 8:37 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teams that train in Arizona love. Teams that have left Florida for Arizona have raved about it. There are many left coast reds fans that would fill the stadiums. Not as humid, beautiful weather, better facilities, etc... It is a great option. I would be there! Airfare is not much different for Ohio folks.

 
at 9:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the Reds go to Mexico ... and stay there!

 
at 9:55 PM Anonymous Donnie said...

Can we take the Bengals somewhere and leave them? I think the Disney area would be great place for the Reds. Arizona will not have a Cincinnati fan base. FL is enjoyable for those of us that make trips to watch our citys only "professional" franchise!

 
at 9:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would LOVE for them to come to St. Pete since the D-Rays are leaving, and I work 3 blocks from Progress Energy Field! :) But as long as they don't go to Arizona, I'm good, I'll travel, but the closer they are to the Tampa Bay area, the more games I get to see! Go Reds, STAY IN FLORIDA!!

 
at 11:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Reds should do the following:

A) Fire John Allen. His job was to secure Sarasota as the site. He failed, much like he did when he ran the team for Marge/Linder.

B) Find another solution to stay in Sarasota. Ed Smith stadium is not bad and the facilities are more than adequate. Is it a palace? No. But sorry Bob and gang the days of voters passing tax increases is over.

C) Fans need to write the Reds and demand that they stay in Sarasota despite losing the sales tax. Its like the neighborhood kid who owns the baseball and demands to pitch every game..if he doesn't get his way he takes his ball and goes home.

D) What is going to happen when GABP's lease is up and the Reds want another sales tax for a new stadium? Tax levy's will not pass in this age of everything being taxed.

 
at 2:40 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ft Myers wouldn't too bad as there is a cheap airline that goes from here to ft myers (usa 3000 i think) and would be convenient for us

 
at 6:48 AM Blogger Tim said...

sontimFIND A WAY to stay in Sarasota. My retirement is already planned around them being there for thirty years. It is a beautiful area full of former/vacationing Ohioans. I like Ed as it is. It will not cost that much to make it handicap accessible. Or, the issue should go on the ballot again in 08 in the general, or look for corrporate funding. If still not possible, then obviously Lee County is the next option

 
at 8:24 AM Blogger Kelly said...

I have been to Sarasota and to all of the AZ complexes, those of you who think the Sarasota complex is acceptable are crazy, it does not begin to compare, it is old and run down.....and why move into some other teams digs again, there is a reason teams like the White Sox leave......for once be the class organization of the 70's again, please.....

 
at 9:16 AM Anonymous Jeff said...

Based on what the Cincinnati transplants to Arizona are saying, Arizona has everything. Everything except, of course: (A) the ability to drive there;(B)a beach; (C) any natural fan base for the Reds; and (D)a tie-in to Reds minor league affiliates in Florida. I note one other thing that's missing in Arizona:(E) baseball tradition. As the oldest franchise, and a long-time participant in the Grapefruit League, I would think the Reds would be one of the last teams to ever abandon the tradition of Spring Training in Florida.

I would love to see the Reds stay in Sarasota as well, but, if they can't, I think they would do well to give serious consideration to taking over the Dodgers complex at Vero Beach. The Vero area is very pleasant, and the beach is a few blocks away. The drive from Cincinnati is about the same as for Sarasota. The Braves and Disney are just a little over an hour away at Orlando, and the Nationals, Cardinals, and Marlins are all lined up along I-95 to provide competition. The locals would embrace the Reds with open arms. And the whole complex positively reeks with tradition.

I perceive that Dodgertown could quickly be transformed into Redstown. And, as a lifelong Reds fan who remembers the days of the rivalry between the Reds and the Dodgers, there would be something deeply satisfying about watching new red paint cover up all that Dodger blue.

 
at 11:28 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Reds should move to St. Petersburg after the Devil Rays leave next year. It's close to Sarasota so anyone within driving distance to Ed Smith stadium could make the trip to downtown St. Pete. Personally, I live in Clearwater and there are plenty of other Reds fans who live her as well (you just have to sift through all the despicable Yankee fans that live in Tampa)!!

 
at 12:35 PM Blogger docproc said...

I find all the comments about wanting a more "modern complex" (particularly in AZ) to be unpersuasive. I've been to numerous spring training sites and I like the older ones with charm and character much better than the newer "complexes" (a perfect word to describe them).

Ed Smith is just fine by me.

 
at 1:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a bit further South in FL...Homestead has a great park sitting empty. It is next to the speedway and minutes from the Keys.

 
at 2:09 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

The Reds' new spring training home is not about where fans will travel.

It's not about which major highway midwesterners migrate toward.

It's not about convenience.

It's not about where you live.

It's not about where your brother, sister-in-law or neighbor's dog lives.

It's not about tradition.

It's not about gate revenues.

It's not about beaches, cacti, alligators, roadrunners, dry weather, wet weather, or even bellwether.

No, these new homes are about facilities and greased palms . . . as in, which jurisdiction will bow to pay the biggest portion of cost for the best facilities for a team. That's why so many teams have left for Arizona--the Phoenix area has been aggressive and free-spending in building top-flight facilities to lure the teams, realizing the tax and economic monies will eventually pay for the facilities, plus some.

Most of these stadiums hold only 3,000-5,000, and the revenues generated are peanuts by MLB standards. Normally, the overwhelming chunk of receipts goes to the city to help pay for the bonds, maintenance, utilities and staff costs of hosting spring training.

So if you think the Reds are being greedy over gate, you're wrong. The greed is about the facilities, and finding someone else to foot the bill. That's normally not very hard.

 
at 2:12 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Here's the thing about Homestead.

It sux. It's on the southern tip of nowhere. The weather is erratic. And most of all, opponents don't want to travel there.

It also sux.

The Indians were privately glad that hurricane damage allowed them to get out of that agreement to train there. For one reason, Winter Haven sux much less than Homestead.

That says something.

 
at 2:12 PM Anonymous Rocksberry said...

EAST COAST! EAST COAST! EAST COAST!

 
at 3:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My vote...

Do nothing. Stay at Sarasota this year. ANYTHING that takes the focus off of improving this team ON THE FIELD is a waste of time right now.

All oars in the water. All rowing the same direction. Playoffs are expected. A World Series title is wanted.

Find some pitching. If they are visiting other cities in FLA or ARI - I would hope it is to either scout or to find a Free Agent pitcher - not to evaluate the best place to get a sun tan while taking part in Spring Training.

Reds fans... This means you too. (We have one of the oars that need to be rowing...) Do not get caught up in this garbage. If you are going to write a letter to the Reds front office - save the ink on your opinion of a Spring Training site - and instead demand improvement on the field.

First things first. I understand that this will be a priority for the organization to figure out for the future... Although this is not the highest priority right now.

I want a winning team on the field!!!

 
at 9:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surf City Reds Fan

There is a quite a few people on the West Coast that grew up in and around Ohio. There could be better numbers than you may think I think the Reds in Arizona would be great, not a long drive from SoCal.

 
at 12:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in Fort Myers, relocated 2 yr ago. Fort Myers area already has the Red Sox and Twins. Red Sox Stadium is in the ghetto but the Twins Stadium is in a nice area of South Fort Myers. The location I have heard around town is a town about 10-15 miles south of Fort Myers in Estero. Estero is the midpoint for Naples and Fort Myers. Also, FGCU is located in Estero, this is their 1st year in Division 1. They are building up the area with 2 lifestyle centers and building a lot of hotels in the area.

 
at 1:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A big NO to Arizona!!

I'd vote for Vero to become Redsland.

West Palm Beach is always looking for a team.

The Orioles are planning to build a new facility in Fort Lauderdale. Maybe the Reds could team up with them and share the place (it doesn't hurt that I work a couple of blocks from that site!!).

 
at 1:59 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ditto to most..anywhere but AZ. nothing against AZ, brother lives there and seen a few games out there, top notch facilities..but, AZ seems like cheating baseball let alone Reds history. Heard to many stories of grandma caravaning down to Fl, not AZ. with the Rosie Reds back in the '60's and 70's. Stay in the sunshine state, please. not to mention, that is where i live.

 
at 4:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Port Charlotte. Make a deal with the Devil Rays and take the renovated Port Charlotte Stadium. You are less than an hour from both Sarasota and Ft Myers. Then I could get season tickets to see the team I grew up with every spring.
Gary - Port Charlotte

 
at 6:39 PM Blogger Mike said...

Spring Training games in Sarasota lack the atmosphere that makes live baseball fun. The crowd there is completely silent between pitches, it's kinda creepy even. Arizona would offer a younger crowd and a more energetic atmosphere.

Of the FL locations, Vero Beach would be nice, but the city wouldn't adopt the Reds like they did the Dodgers.

 
at 7:07 PM Blogger CincyNativeInAZ said...

Spring Training games in AZ are like a party. Families spread out blankets on the grass behind the outfield walls. Companies have picnics for their employees. The crowds are young. The weather is incredible. The beer is cold. The baseball is good.

The teams' facilities are so close together that people will "travel" to see their team, so even if the crowd isn't strictly partisan, it is lively.

You folks in Cincy may not be able to caravan to AZ for the week, but you can come see games every day. If the Reds played in Goodyear today, Peoria tomorrow, Surprise the next day and Maryvale the day after that, you could see everyone of them without much effort.

If they move to Orlando, could you easily do that if they played on the coasts the next day? What would you do? Would you spend hours driving out to the coast for a day at the beach? You can drive hours here and be at the beach, too. Would you spend a day at Disney? You can still golf.

Seems to me you'd have more opportunities to see baseball out here. And if you're not going for the baseball, then why do you care where they are?

PS...the chicks out here are a lot hotter, too. I'm just sayin'....

 
at 12:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plant City.

 
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