SBD/Issue 102/Facilities & Venues

Mesa Mayor Upset Cactus League Teams Oppose Legislation For Cubs

Mesa Mayor Fires Back At Teams That Oppose 
Legislation For Cubs' Spring Training Complex 
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith "lashed out at parochialism among Cactus League baseball teams Monday, saying their opposition to a ticket surcharge for a new Chicago Cubs training facility could cost them all if the team bolts to Florida," according to Walsh & Berry of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Smith: "Whatever temporary hurt a new surcharge would bring pales in terms of the millions of dollars that will walk out of the Valley with the Cubs." Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon noted that downtown Phoenix hotels and the rental-car industry are "wary of the bill and any increase in tourism fees." Arizona state Rep. John McComish, who introduced a bill yesterday that would help finance the Cubs' Spring Training complex in Mesa, said that he "plans to speak with the other 14 teams and the tourism industry before the bill heads to a hearing in about two weeks." Walsh & Berry note the bill's "frosty reception comes as Smith attempts to forge a regional solution to keeping the Cubs, which he said are worth $138[M] a year to the Valley's economy." Smith said that the stadium financing problem "spotlights the lack of funding sources for renovation of existing facilities or the replacement of antiquated facilities in the Cactus League." Smith said of the financing plan, "This is a Cactus League solution, not a Cubs solution." He noted that "some money generated by the additional fees would be available for other facilities through a Cactus League fund" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/9). Smith: "Hopefully, the teams will keep an open mind and discuss honestly how this problem can be resolved so the Cactus League can remain strong and successful. To do otherwise is shortsighted, selfish and foolish." In Chicago, Paul Sullivan noted HoHoKam Park, where the Cubs currently have their Spring Training operations, is "by no means an obsolete ballpark." But it is "one of the older facilities remaining in the Cactus League." Cubs President Crane Kenney in December said that the team "needed a new facility because Cubs fans may decide to attend their road games at more modern Cactus League ballparks in the future." Kenney said, "If I go to Arizona and I'm a Cubs fan and I want to see my team, I can choose to either go to Goodyear, Glendale or one of these really neat facilities" (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 2/8).

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