9/16 Could the Cubs move to Naples, FL?
Mesa officials met this week with incoming Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and team officials to discuss possibly building a new stadium and training complex. If the Cubs don’t get their demands, they may move to Florida, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith called the city of Naples, Fla., a “serious threat.”
Smith led the delegation from Mesa to Chicago for meetings Monday and Tuesday. The Mesa contingent concluded the city needs to match Naples’ bid by building a new stadium and training complex.
“This is the marketplace,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “Our competition is very serious. I think it’s a serious threat. We need to match the competition.”
The city of Mesa would like to build a new stadium and training complex near the former General Motors Proving Grounds but would need a private-public partnership to finance a $70 to $80 million facility. The Cubs feel their facility at Fitch Park is antiquated.
How important are the Cubs to Mesa? A recent study shows Cubs fans contribute $31.1 million in direct Cactus League spending, and $52.2 million to the state economy.
Mesa’s 25-year lease with the Cubs expires in 2016, but the team can pay $4.2 million next spring to opt out early and leave in 2012.
“The reality is for us to compete with that offer, we’re going to have to look at building a new facility for the Cubs,” Smith told the East Valley Tribune. “It’s not that the Cubs are demanding things, it’s simply that we’ve got competition.”
It is possible to upgrade the Fitch Park practice facility and HoHoKam Stadium, but a new location is needed to meet future needs. It would include land for restaurants, hotels and shops.
— Carrie Muskat