By Al Pefley email
VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Usually in mid to late February, Dodgertown is hopping. But, now, there's a padlock on the front gate, and there isn't a soul around.
It's been a fact of life around here for 61 years. The L.A. Dodgers have always come to Vero Beach in February for spring training.
Now, they're gone. For the first time in six decades, the Dodgers are gone. Gone for good.
"It's sad. It's really sad. You can feel it's sad," said Daniel Caporrino, owner of Tubby All American Subs and Bagels.
At Tubby's business is down. They're just a couple of blocks from the stadium. "I don't expect to have a really good season. It was a big draw. I'm not gonna lie. It was a very big draw," Caporrino said.
Customers at Tubby's, like William Lang of Vero Beach and his wife, also miss the Dodgers. They used to sell hotdogs at the stadium. "They had beautiful facilities here. They should never have left in my opinion," Lang told us.
At the Silver Clipper Barber Shop, nobody's happy the Dodgers left Vero for Arizona.
Some of the ball players used to come in here for haircuts. One of the Dodgers players gave them a bat that they have displayed on the wall. The owner says it's the oldest barber shop in Vero Beach.
"Everybody would be happier if they were here. It would help all the businesses," barber Ginal Robinson told us, as she gave a three year old boy a haircut.
The Dodgers brought excitement for the fans, money for the businesses, and prestige for the city. Now all that is gone.
"I think it's an embarrassment to the town. They walked out on us. People are mad," said barber shop owner Bob Staggs.
Some say the city or county should've done more, worked harder to keep the Dodgers. Others say there's no use crying over it and they'd better move on and lure a new team. "If it sits there empty, it deteriorates, [and] nobody will want it," Staggs explained.
At least one motel is feeling the Dodgers' absence. The Driftwood Resort in Vero is usually booked solid in February and March. Now, this year, they've got rooms. "We're very disappointed they did not get another team in here which, I think, everyone thought they would," said Shirley James, a front desk clerk at the Driftwood.