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The scene at the MLB negotiations: Here’s what it’s like covering the players/owners meetings in Florida

Players and union representatives met in a parking lot before attending meetings with team owners at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.Michael Silverman/Globe Staff

JUPITER, Fla. — Major League Baseball players and owners had to meet somewhere this week in order to rediscover that they are nowhere near an end to their labor dispute. That they chose Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium as the site to hammer away futilely at the future of baseball deserves its own brief, quirky chapter in labor history.

Since last Monday, and through at least this coming Monday, the sides have been meeting in a conference room in the two-story, stucco-exterior, green-metal roofed, Cardinals clubhouse.

The sides come and go from opposite ends of the 70-yard-long structure lined with palm trees, with the media and a few baseball-starved fans there to keep an eye on those entrances and exits. Beginning each day bright and not early, the media start to take attendance of who’s arriving on the players’ side around 20 minutes before the 1 p.m. start of the meetings.

Identities get confirmed (“that’s Lance McCullers, with the ponytail”) and, with SmartPhone cameras placed in between the black-bar fence, blurry and hardly riveting photos are taken of a union lawyer sipping coffee or Max Scherzer stepping out of his sports car, followed by the conga line of negotiators and players slowly walking into the back entrance.


Once the players are out of sight, the media members decamp from their sidewalk spot and walk, unassisted, more than 150 yards to the other side of the clubhouse, which sits just beyond the right-field foul pole and outfield fence.

The clubhouse entrance at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., site of the ongoing MLB labor negotiations.Michael Silverman/Globe Staff

There’s a gate used for food, delivery and garbage trucks, and, this week, for the owners’ and negotiators’ vehicles to come in and park. From the clubhouse, they walk across a concrete mini-plaza, into the stadium bowl, and then up to a conference room in one of the stadium suites, where they caucus until the next meeting or it’s time to leave for the day.


Their comings and goings are noted by those staked outside the delivery gate slathered in SPF-45, some finding respite from the grueling assignment by sitting in the cheapest — Accounting Dept., please take note — lawn chairs available. The remainder of the afternoon is spent on call, waiting for the equivalent of white puffs of smoke, or maybe raised voices, to emerge.

None have yet.

The meetings have been lasting 3-4 hours, the writers’ downtime filled up by Sporcle quizzes and trivia, and mostly friendly conversations with passersby. (Some oblivious to baseball, others not.)

A frequent recommendation from the latter group is that if they were in charge, they’d lock those sides in the conference room and not let them out until they had a deal. More than once, someone has driven by and yelled, “Save baseball!”

Late in the afternoon, the lockout dogs of Jupiter get their walks, and some owners are more than happy to stop and let a reporter pet their pooch — thanks to the owner of Casey, the goldendoodle.

When the meetings break up, the reporters hear the respective perspectives from someone on each side, then head into a room across University Street to write.

The stadium became a convenient Plan B after the locked-out players asked for and the owners agreed to a Florida locale. Many Grapefruit Leaguers live and train in the state, and didn’t want to lose a week’s worth of training for the theoretical season by flying up to wintry New York City for talks.


Members of the media wait outside the gates to Roger Dean Stadium for representatives of each side to brief them on the day's events.Michael Silverman/Globe Staff

Hotel conference rooms are standard-issue sites for baseball labor negotiations, but with a PGA Tour event taking place nearby, they weren’t available. The sides settled on the stadium, the spring training home to the Cardinals and Miami Marlins.

The environs surrounding these talks serve up their own angles. Situated 4 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, near the northern edge of the billionaire-laden Palm Beach County, Roger Dean was built in 1998, the centerpiece of an affluent master-planned Jupiter community called Abacoa, named after a Native American Seminole village.

The stadium sits about 140 miles due east of the Red Sox’ spring training home in Fort Myers. The nearly three-hour bus ride to play the Marlins or Cardinals annually is usually a booby prize for veterans, except for those who parlay it into an overnight in their East Coast Florida home.

It’s mostly the young players and scrubs who make the trek, and there’s been more than one opposition protest that the Red Sox did not bring a representative team to be seen in a stadium usually overrun with Red Sox fans.

Bill Parcells, who lives nearby, is a frequent attendee, and Bill Belichick has been spotted at a Red Sox game at least once. On March 6, 2007, the stadium became a must-stop when Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first appearance for the Red Sox against major leaguers. Even if Matsuzaka did not throw a gyroball, his three scoreless, slowly-paced innings meant a positive debut for the team’s $103 million offseason investment.


There are, of course, no spring training games being played in the stadium this month and likely for a good portion of next month as well. The union and owners are trying to prevent that from happening, but failure looks inevitable.

That means Roger Dean may not have its Camp David Accords moment — a fate few could have foreseen in any circumstance.

Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., is the spring training home of the Cardinals and Marlins.Michael Silverman/Globe Staff

Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com.