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    Spring Training Park: Stadium sees rebirth as movie set

    By CRAIG PITTMAN, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 20, 2002

    Like a lot of Florida cities, Homestead officials pinned their hopes for a brighter economic future on baseball.

    They spent $22-million on a 6,700-seat spring training stadium to lure the Cleveland Indians from Tucson, Ariz. The team signed a 22-year contract and planned to start playing in the salmon-colored stadium in early 1993.

    But the Indians never got a chance to use it: Andrew rendered the new ballpark unusable.

    Because Homestead officials believed it was so important to the city's economic recovery, they rebuilt the ballpark before many other public facilities.

    They even had crews working overtime to get the stadium ready for a 1993 exhibition game between the Indians and the Florida Marlins.

    Cleveland's response: No thanks.

    "The Indians reneged on the contract," said city marketing director Charles LaPradd.

    The Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles had an exhibition game there in 1994, and there was some college spring training, but that was it. Meanwhile, the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on upkeep.

    Finally, Hollywood came calling. In 1999, director Oliver Stone used the stadium as a football training facility for his movie Any Given Sunday.

    And this year, a New York-based television production company leased the stadium for a year for more than $200,000 to shoot 13 episodes of a new HBO drama series, Baseball Wives. The show is set around the fictional Miami Kings baseball team.

    One reason producers liked the Homestead stadium: it has no tenant and no scheduled games to work around.

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