Reds break ground on spring facility
NL's charter franchise to join Cactus League in 2010

By Steve Gilbert /

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was baseball weather in this growing desert community on Monday.

Blue skies and 80-degree temperatures -- not to mention a marching band and red carpet -- and an overflow crowd greeted the Reds front office and Goodyear city officials as they broke ground on a practice facility for the National League's charter franchise.

"We are absolutely delighted to have you," Goodyear mayor James Cavanaugh said.

The Reds will play their first Spring Training games in Arizona in 2010, but they expect to begin moving their operations prior to that. The Reds' 40,000-plus square foot building will house the team's offices, clubhouse, training rooms and conference rooms, and is being built right next door to a similar facility that is being completed for the Indians.

The two teams will have separate practice facilities, but will share a nearby 10,000-seat stadium that is still under construction. The Indians will play games there beginning in the spring of 2009, while the Reds will train for one more spring in Sarasota, Fla.

Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini, along with general manager Walt Jocketty and manager Dusty Baker, were among the officials that tossed the first ceremonial shovels of dirt.

"It really is exciting for us," Castellini said. "That the Indians are also here is an added plus. We will be able to battle with the other team from Ohio every spring."

The team also hopes that by having the two teams playing in the same park that travel packages will be put together for fans across Ohio to make the trek to Arizona.

And speaking of travel, one of the benefits of the upcoming move that Reds players are sure to appreciate is the fact that the distance between teams in the Cactus League is far shorter than it is in the Grapefruit League.

"There was some heavy travel in Florida," Castellini said.

In Arizona, the Reds will be within 30-40 minutes of every team, with the exception of those that train in Tucson, Ariz.

"That's important," Jocketty said. "Less time on the road means more time on the field."

The facility is being built on land that is owned by the Wood family. Margaret Carl represented the family at the ceremonies and told a story about how the family played the first baseball game on this farmland many, many years ago. In fact, her family worked the land before there was electricity or running water.

Everything about the new facility, though, will be modern.

"From a general manager's standpoint, what you're looking for is the best facility possible to get your team ready for the championship season," Jocketty said. "This facility will be phenomenal. It will be state-of-the-art and there will be things that we can do to better train and develop our players. We will have some real advanced technology in some areas, more fields, a better weight-training facility and bigger and better locker rooms. We're moving a lot of our staff out here from Florida over the next year or so and this will be a base for us. We're going to spend a lot of time here."

That is certainly what the city of Goodyear is counting on. Five years ago, it tried to lure a different team to the western part of the Valley, but was rebuffed. Right from the start, though, Castellini and Cavanaugh hit it off -- with Reds officials impressed with the city's level of courtship.

"The city has bent over backwards to get us here," Castellini said. "It's very very gratifying to be wanted. Sometimes we didn't get that feeling down in Florida."

The organization plans to make Goodyear part of what is known as "Reds Country." That means the team will get involved in the community with the first step being a donation to help youth baseball and softball teams in the area.

"We have good neighbors coming to our city," Cavanaugh said.