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04/30/08 9:15 PM ET

Padres open academy in Dominican

State-of-the-art complex can house 64 players

SAN CRISTÓBAL, Dominican Republic -- The San Diego Padres on Wednesday officially opened their new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, unveiling a complex that will serve as the team's base of Latin American operations.

The facility, which will house its prospects for year-round training, will also serve as the home field for the Padres' team in the Dominican Summer Rookie League.

The inauguration ceremony was headed by the Padres' front office, representatives of the Dominican government and Major League Baseball, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

The new academy is located on 15 acres near the towns of Najayo and Palenque, in the province of San Cristobal in the southern region of the Dominican Republic. There are four buildings, two and a half fields and batting practice areas.

The Mediterranean-style complex resembles a university campus, and includes a two-story housing unit which can accommodate 64 players.

The 2,000 square-foot building also features meeting rooms, recreation rooms, and a laundry area and is equipped with television and computers. The three-story clubhouse features central air conditioning and ceiling fans, a state-of-the-art gym with 35 machines and eight massage tables, as well as a spacious dressing room.

The second floor is a dressing room for coaches and instructors, while the third floor is a space for meetings and administrative offices.

Another of the buildings has a modern kitchen and dining room with capacity to serve 100.

The dining room connects to an area dedicated to the academy's education program, with classrooms, libraries and computer learning centers.

The academy currently has 32 players, making up a portion of the 81 Latin American players under contract with the organization.

Those players are from the Dominican Republic (37), Mexico (21), Venezuela (15), Colombia (6), Nicaragua (1) and Panama (1).

Mario Emilio Guerrero is a contributing writer to LasMayores.com, MLB.com's Spanish Web site. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.