The A's Spring Training and minor-league operations facilities in Arizona set to open next year "will be far fancier than the team's regular-season home" at O.co Coliseum, according to Susan Slusser of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The A's will "move into fully renovated Fitch Park" in Mesa for Spring Training workouts and minor league operations. That facility is "nearly double the size of Oakland's current minor-league site, Papago Park" in Phoenix. For Spring Training games starting next season, the A's will take over a "spiffed up" HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, which the Cubs vacated after '13. The city of Mesa, which paid $99M to build the Cubs a new complex, also is "footing most of the bill for the A's new digs" with a contribution of nearly $20M. The A's are "kicking in" $2.5M. There is a "state-of-the-art high-definition videoboard at HoHoKam" that will be "more than double the size of the scoreboard at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the club has played for 33 years. The Mesa facilities "will not just be slicker -- they also will improve baseball operations." Gensler architect Jason Boyer emphasized that the "new HoHoKam will be affiliated with the A's at every turn -- branding is a big part of the renovation work, with more than $300,000 devoted to graphics." The capacity will "shrink from 13,000 to 10,500, but the seating will improve, with some bleacher areas converted to chair-backed seats and shaded dining options expanded" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/14).
SITUATION STILL UNCLEAR IN OAKLAND: The A's long-term future at O.Co Coliseum remains uncertain with the team's lease expiring in '15, but CSNBAYAREA.com's Andy Dolich expects the A's "will get a lease extension and this Groundhog Day, this soap opera, will continue." Dolich noted the A's are profitable and have a "heck of a team again this year" after winning the AL West the last two seasons. Dolich: "The fans that are coming have been loyal as heck. If they would just focus on building a new stadium in Oakland, they would be back to drawing close to 3 million fans." The A's are going "to be in Oakland for a long time, just as the Warriors are and just as the Raiders are." However, there remains "no strategy and ... timetable in order for this to happen" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/13).