SBD/Issue 94/Facilities & Venues

Cubs-Mesa Deal For New Spring Training Complex Now Up To Voters

Cubs' Proposed $84M Complex Will Require 
Legislature, Voter Approval  
Cubs President Crane Kenney yesterday confirmed that the team has given Mesa, Arizona, an "exclusive window to keep the team" for Spring Training, and now the fate of the proposed $84M complex "lies in the hands of the Arizona legislature and ultimately the city's voters, who will vote on funding for the facility in November," according to Phil Rogers of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Kenney "acknowledged the difficult timing for such a measure," and noted that the Cubs "aren't taking voters' approval for granted." He said, "Especially with the recession today, there is no sure thing." Kenney added that the team "will suspend thoughts about a proposed move to Naples, Fla., which made a strong pitch built around a public-private partnership" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/28). MLB.com's Tom Singer noted the Cubs' proposed 100-acre project in Mesa is "in the very early stages." A specific site has "yet to be determined," but Kenney noted that the choices "have been whittled to three possibilities, with an East Mesa location most likely." As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, Mesa "did away with the annual $850,000 penalty the club had faced for early termination of its contract with the city." Although the MOU "does not have a formal deadline, it essentially gives Arizona a one-year window." If approved, Kenney believes a "2012 move into the new facility" is possible, although 2013 is "more realistic" (MLB.com, 1/27). In Phoenix, Walsh & Nelson note the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority bill "would have to be approved by mid-July to give Mesa time to call a November election on the bond proposal." How much money each source would contribute has "yet to be determined" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/28). Collier (FL) County Tourist Development Council Dir Jack Wert said because the complex must be approved by the Arizona legislature and Mesa voters, "we still think we have an opportunity" to lure the Cubs to Florida. Wert: "The owners said to our group here, 'You're a solid second place.' So until that happens, there's still a possibility" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 1/28)  

FLYING SOLO: Kenney said that the Cubs "have been approached by other major-league teams about the possibility of sharing a new facility, but the Cubs have rejected that idea because they want complete control to build a facility that best suits the needs of the Cubs and their fans." The "idea is to have a real Chicago flavor" to the complex. Cubs BOD member Laura Ricketts: "Our home is Wrigley Field, so we appreciate that unique feel. That's why we want to recreate it. ... We want to bring some of that unique feel West" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/28).

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