Orioles Break Ground on New Dominican Academy
Last week, the Orioles’ partnership group and baseball operations leadership celebrated a major milestone in their endeavor to strengthen the club’s international presence when the club officially broke ground on their new, state-of-the-art training academy in Guerra, Dominican Republic.
Numerous dignitaries were in attendance to celebrate the event, which was emceed by Dominican journalist Yancen Pujols. Among the guests of honor were Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader, Dominican Republic Minister of Sports Francisco Camacho Rivas, and Dominican Republic Commissioner of Baseball Junior Noboa, a testament to the academy’s importance not only to the Orioles, but to the community of Guerra and the Dominican Republic as a whole.
President Abinader, Rivas, and Noboa were joined by Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos, Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias, and Senior Director of International Scouting Koby Perez, who have been leading the project for the club.
“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet,” stated Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias. “International scouting and player development are critical to the future success of the Orioles, and baseball as a whole. This new academy will be the Latin American home of the Orioles, and once completed we expect it to be one of the finest training facilities in the Dominican.”
Perez, who has two decades of experience in professional baseball, connected with Birdland Insider in March when plans for the academy were first announced to discuss its significance and what it means for the club’s long-term success.
The 22.5-acre complex will be home to the Orioles’ regional facility for Caribbean, Central, and South American player development operations, which will include three full fields, a sports turfed agility field, batting and pitching tunnels, administrative buildings, dormitories, and educational facilities.
The project is being led by landowner and developer Brian Mejia of Brison SRL. The Orioles have been represented by renowned Dominican academy architect, José Mella. Mella is considered one of the foremost training facility architects in the Dominican Republic and has designed around half of the current academies in the DR today.
Once complete, the complex will house over 100 players, coaches, and staff, providing dormitory style rooms and entertainment spaces. It will include three classrooms and a computer lab, which will provide on-site learning and an education plan for each player. The complex will also be home to a dining room that will offer daily nutritious meals.
The ceremony was also attended by multiple Orioles Alumni, including Daniel Cabrera, Ubaldo Jiménez, Radhames Liz, Melvin Mora, Félix Pié, and Miguel Tejada, many of whom began their careers playing on similar fields and academies in the area.
Along with their time spent at the groundbreaking ceremony, the Orioles and the Oriole Advocates also teamed up to provide youth baseball equipment, including gloves and bats, and Orioles apparel to Escuela Básica Carmen Dilia Ortiz and the Los Prospectos Little League team in the Dominican Republic. Daniel Cabrera, Ubaldo Jiménez, Melvin Mora, and Miguel Tejada were on hand to help hand out the gear to ensure the school and team, with kids ages 5-10, are fully equipped to play.
For years, the development of a state-of-the-art training academy in the Dominican Republic has been a goal of the Orioles’ front office, as the club continues to explore ways to expand and strengthen its presence in Latin America. Last week’s groundbreaking ceremony marks the official beginning of construction, which will culminate with the final ribbon cutting 12-16 months later.
“This partnership group continues to execute the long-term plan announced in the fall of 2018 to invest and reinvest in baseball facilities, technology, front office research and expertise, and player talent. Our organization's capital commitment to the Dominican Republic is yet another demonstration of our confident long view of the value of MLB, Orioles, and Camden Yards brand platforms,” said Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos. “As we continue to invest and give back across Maryland and Florida, we see this as another opportunity to make a difference internationally in the Dominican community as we strengthen the future of Orioles baseball.”
Orioles fans will be able to follow along throughout construction of the academy. For additional information, stories, and videos regarding the announcement, along with updates throughout the process, please visit Orioles.com/DominicanAcademy.