2/5/10 Prickly issue in Cactus League

Cactus League teams want the Cubs to stay in Arizona. They just don’t want to pay for the Cubs’ new facility.

According to a story in the Phoenix Business Journal, the White Sox and Diamondbacks oppose a plan to have the entire Cactus League bankroll the $84 million stadium being built in Mesa for the Cubs. Arizona lawmakers are considering a plan to impose new ticket charges on all Cactus League games and raise rental car taxes in the Valley to help pay for the new complex.

Ticket surcharges have been used by specific cities to fund baseball stadiums within their jurisdictions, according to Cactus League president Robert Brinton. However, the latest proposal would mark the first time a league-wide fee would be imposed for one project.

White Sox president Jerry Reinsdorf told the Journal that other teams and their fans did not finance development of his team’s stadium in Glendale. D-backs President Derrick Hall also is opposed to the idea of league-wide ticket surcharges to benefit the Cubs.

“We want the Cubs to stay here badly, but not at the expense of our fans,” Hall told the Journal. “I’ve heard the argument that the other teams should be willing to because of the visiting crowds that the Cubs bring to their games. They do draw well, as do we, yet we were creative in our search for a new site to identify a partner willing to finance the entire project without public dollars.”

The D-Backs and Rockies will move into a new facility in 2011 that the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is building east of Scottsdale. The tribe is taking a $23 million loan backed by federal stimulus money to help fund the $100 million project. The tribe, which operates two casinos, is paying for the remainder of the new complex.

Arizona House Majority Leader John McComish is formulating a financing bill for the Cubs. He has said he’s looking at options to pay for the new stadium, including ticket surcharges and increased taxes on hotels and car rentals. It has not been determined how much the surcharge would be. The Phoenix area already has high car rental taxes, with current rates totaling 18.53 percent.

Legislators may face criticism if they fast-track taxes for the Cubs as they cut education and social welfare programs in the face of a multibillion-dollar deficit.

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady said in addition to ticket surcharges and higher car rental taxes, Mesa voters will be asked to approve bond money as well as infrastructure and services spending for the new complex. Brady said tentative plans call for two-thirds of the $84 million to come from regional sources and one-third from the city. That translates into a split of $56 million to $28 million.

– Carrie Muskat

23 Comments

I understand where the other teams are coming, but Cubs fans do come in droves, spend a lot of money, etc. In essence, Cubs fans did help pay for all these stadiums just by their fans showing up. I would think they would rather contribute a ticket rather than play in front of half empty crowds because the Cubs aren’t in the area.

I’d like to know if Jerry Reinsdorf remembers that the city of Chicago paid for his ball park . So why is he complaining then. Remember if the Cubs leave . Then so do most of the fans. Its a win / win for Arizona.

The State of Illinois paid for the ‘Cell, not the city. I’m not in favor of public money used for sports facilities. The direct payback is non-existent. Estimating visitor impact (rooms, meals, merchandise) is just a guess and hard to verify. A ticket surcharge is like a rental car/hotel room tax, everyone helps fund something that benefits one group more than the whole. I’d like to see the Cubs stay in AZ, since I live in Las Vegas. But public funding is going to be a hard sell.

Shouldn’t the team pick up some of the bill? I mean, who makes out here? Tickets, consessions, liscensing gear, who gets the profits? THE CUBS. Let’s see, I wanna go to a game. I’ll need to stay near the park. $30 room tax. I’ll need a rental for the weekend. $30 rental tax. I’ll need to chow down for a couple days. I’ll make it good chow, why not? $another 10 tax. Ok, so far for a 2 day stay probably $70 in extra taxes so far. Now, the tickets. $10 in taxes there. For what? THE CUBS to get a free ball park?

In the words of Eric Cartman….”Screw you guys…I’m goin’ home.”

That’s why the CUBS should just come to Southwest Florida.WE are CUB FANS THAT WANT THE TEAM !!!Practice with the BEST TEAMS IN BASEBALL at a state of the art Ballpark and practice fields. PLAY WHERE THE WINNERS PLAY !!!!!!!!

I’ve watched a lot of spring training games in both AZ and FL. There is no question that FL teams are better prepared to play than AZ teams. The weather conditions including temps and humidity are more conducive to getting in shape, getting loose, getting strong and getting sharp in FL than in AZ. The hot dry desert causes human beings to rest as much as possible and not use up their energy. No question that the players in FL hustle and work harder than they do in AZ where they spend a lot of time looking for a place to sit in the shade. Beside this, the level of competition in FL is much better. In FL the Cubs would be playing against winning teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies and Twins.
Not to mention that FL already has a tourist tax that they would have spent on the Cubs. Tradition is great, but not a losing tradition

It’s hard to believe that the Cubs rejected the Florida bid BEFORE Arizona funding was firmly in place. Higher taxes/fees on Arizona rental cars, etc? Seriously? The last time I rented a car in Arizona, the fees/taxes were almost 7 times HIGHER than the same car rented in Florida for the same length of time which was also during spring training. More & more Illinois, Indiana, etc license plates are appearing as winter visitors from those states flock to Florida with its affordability. And, increasing numbers of those same winter visitors are retiring/relocating to Florida permanently due to NO state income tax & lower cost of living all around. This decision to choose Arizona without knowing IF or WHERE the funding will come from is a horrible miscalculation on the part of the Cubs! In the meantime, the Cubs have most likely ruined what could have been a promising & lucrative business relationship with the Floridians. Did the Cubs just use Florida as a pawn in their negotiations with Arizona? The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since they moved west, but why consider a change for the better, right? After all, why pay attention to the move back east to Florida that “Mr. Cubs” himself, Ernie Banks endorsed? According to Crane Kenney, the Cubs have no need for nor a desire to change with the times which explains a lot. Cardinals, Reds, & other NL Central fans should celebrate this latest bad decision in hopes that the Cubs’ bad “karma” continues. Perhaps the Ricketts should reconsider, but will it be too late by the time they do?

It’s hard to believe that the Cubs rejected the Florida bid BEFORE Arizona funding was firmly in place. Higher taxes/fees on Arizona rental cars, etc? Seriously? The last time I rented a car in Arizona, the fees/taxes were almost 7 times HIGHER than the same car rented in Florida for the same length of time which was also during spring training. More & more Illinois, Indiana, etc license plates are appearing as winter visitors from those states flock to Florida with its affordability. And, increasing numbers of those same winter visitors are retiring/relocating to Florida permanently due to NO state income tax & lower cost of living all around. This decision to choose Arizona without knowing IF or WHERE the funding will come from is a horrible miscalculation on the part of the Cubs! In the meantime, the Cubs have most likely ruined what could have been a promising & lucrative business relationship with the Floridians. Did the Cubs just use Florida as a pawn in their negotiations with Arizona? The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since they moved west, but why consider a change for the better, right? After all, why pay attention to the move back east to Florida that “Mr. Cubs” himself, Ernie Banks endorsed? According to Crane Kenney, the Cubs have no need for nor a desire to change with the times which explains a lot. Cardinals, Reds, & other NL Central fans should celebrate this latest bad decision in hopes that the Cubs’ bad “karma” continues. Perhaps the Ricketts should reconsider, but will it be too late by the time they do?

Carrie, although I have no solid preference as to where the Cubs hold their spring training as I think great teams can get to the Wold Series regardless of their spring training site or their spring training “competition” and more importantly than that is how the Cubs are general managed which is just plain bad under Hendry. I am wondering since some commentators raise some interesting points about the FL “competition” level as being important to the success (acheiving a World Series apperance) of the Cubs, is there any data that would confirm that the majority of World Series appearing teams train in FL?

Leave the Cubs in AZ. Do whatever it takes to keep them here. This team brings in revenue for AZ. It’s desperately needed. Yes there are cuts in education and social welfare programs….Nobody knows that more than the people who work in those fields (me). It’s not that bad….it is forcing some of the “system users” to be held more accountable for services they continue to use. Simple user fees have been known to force clients of social welfare programs to contribute and be more invested in, what they’ve come to believe, is “owed to them”. (ok…I’m off my soapbox. LOL) IN ANY CASE….the Cubs are the heart of the Cactus League and losing them would be dollars lost for the other teams and surrounding cities. I’ve been to several spring training games where the Cubs are visitors…..take a good look in those stands….CUBS FANS DOMINATE.

I’d rather see the tax increase in order to benefit AZ for years to come. Thank you Cubs for your efforts to stay. There’s something to say about loyalty. AZ truly needs the Cubs.

This from the East Valley Tribune—Cubs project cost pegged at $119 million (eastvalleytribune.com/story/150330)—in truth, Arizona has NO idea where the funding will come from, or IF they can get funding—Arizona is bankrupt & their real estate market continues to decline & tourists will be hit HARD with MORE exorbitant taxes & fees even though Arizona residents will benefit from the Cubs much more than tourists—a tactic which will eventually result in a decline in tourism & its negative economic impact on the state—PLUS this type of funding is NOT in line with recent Arizona Supreme Court rulings (read quotes below). So, are the city of Mesa in particular & the state of Arizona in general just yanking the Cubs chain & stringing them along with false hope & false promises eventually leaving the Cubs stuck with the antiquated Hohokam Park facilities? Time will tell.

“McComish and Smith said economic benefits justify the taxpayer expense. But they acknowledged they couldn’t guarantee the current plan will comply with a recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling that banned other incentives for private interests.

Officials will have to have more specific financial plans before they can review whether the deal meets the court’s requirement that taxpayer incentives directly generate at least the same amount of economic benefit, Smith said.”

Exactly how many years & how many championships are the Ricketts & the Cubs willing to squander in dealings with Arizona vs a sure thing in Florida?

They are going to need a state wide referendum to do this. After all, imagine that you are sitting in Surprise, AZ. and are being asked to add $10 a ticket (that is what they want) to the Rangers, Royals, Sox & Dodgers’ games and you know that all the money generated goes to Mesa, do you vote yeah? I use those teams since they have a strong, local, fan base that has already paid for their stadiums. Those teams, and their city, get almost no benefit from the Cubs. This is a really poorly thought out idea.

From what I have read Napes is waiting to give the Cubs the deal they already have in place,which will not require any new taxes. The county hotels owners alrready voted themselves a tax and no more will be necessary,except what is already there. I read that Fl expects to have to wait about a year,and then either AZ will come up with all those new taxes or they default to FL. Originally Cubs had to make a final decision to stay or go with AZ by ST,but Cubs and Mesa reworked that so AZ would have a chance to try to match Fl’s offer.Now Cubs have another year to make a decision. It looks like that a slam dunk for AZ has swung back to FL. AZ has a huge tax level to make people believe in..at several levels.. If times were better there might be an easier effort,but I think FL now has the upper hand.Everything is in place in FL ,and AZ has to catch up,and various constituencies are already fighting back in AZ and they’ve just begun.

Perhaps the Ricketts are giving Mesa & its venom-tongued leader enough rope—but how long will Naples put things on hold for the Cubs? Rumor has it that there are other teams interested in Collier county—are the Cubs willing to squander the wonderful opportunity Florida offers? What’s the new “deadline” date (not that it mattered this time) for the Cubs next decision on a spring training site? Arizona seems to be making promises that are impossible to keep. Florida interests are taking the high road, while Mesa’s mayor continues to lash out with low blows. Are the Cubs willing to stoop to that level & delay this project for another year—depriving their players of what the competition already has? Don’t Cubs players and fans, including the millions in Florida, deserve better? Is the Cubs new ownership group truly dedicated to seeking a World Championship sooner rather than later? So far, the jury is still out!

Joey, 16 of last 19 World Series champs have trained in Florida. Does it make a difference? I know pitching coaches tend to favor the Florida humidity (Arizona hitting statistics are skewed by the dry weather). The downside is the long bus rides but that obviously hasn’t hurt the Yankees or Red Sox (of course, their payroll helps them, too). One thing that should be noted: Naples is keeping its doors open if Mesa can’t get the funding necessary. A key vote will be in November when Mesa voters have their say.

I think this whole issue is easily solved by having the Cubs make the move they should have made in the beginning. They should move to Florida—better overall place to “train”, Cubs fans get to distance themselves from Sox fans, Reinsdorf gets his wish of not having his fans “taxed” for Cubs fans benefits (even though he had no problem with the stae of Illinois building him his ballpark!!!!). Let’s just see how Arizona and the Sox and all the other teams that get the benefit of Cubs Nation do without the Cubs. They wont get the tax, they’ll just pay more for everything else because there will be less revenue to go around without the Cubs and their fans. It also saves a lot of face for the Ricketts, who probably want to get the Cubs to Florida anyways, now Mesa and Arizona and Reinsdorf gave them the perfect reason to leave town without looking bad. I am all for letting the best “team” win and it looks like Florida has the best overall proposal.

Carrie, thanks for that info…pretty astounding stats. I always thought it would have no bearing on getting in the World Series let alone being CHAMPS!!! I now humbly apologize to all the commentors that insisted the FL caliber “competition” would somehow improve the Cubs chances of succeeding (World Series), it apperars they are on to something!!!???

It must be the beaches.

AHH!!! But of course….the beaches!!! Watson, how could I have been so blind? The game is afoot. (Barry Afoot ha!)

idk what the right solution is here, but im glad that the Cubs r staying in Mesa. Bleed Cubby blue! http://readbetweenthevines.mlblogs.com

I have been attending spring training in the Phoenix area for nearly 20 years and have come to appreciate the large quantity of Cubs fans. With the new facilities popping up every year in Arizona all the communities rely on the Cubs fans to fill stadiums. Attend any Cubs away game and you will find that 1/2 the stadium is filled with loyal Cubs fans. Taxing rental cars, hotels and the like is not the way to find an new home for the Cubs. All the outlying communities should assist Mesa in paying for the new facility as they will all find without the loyal Cub blue thier revenues will decrease. Arizona made the choice years ago to make spring training work, they need to find a way without taxing the general public to death.

If the Cubs are selling out the Mesa Stadium then they have the money to improve the stadium. It is not the Cactus League’s fault the Cubs brain-trust paid Soriano and Bradley. To place this stadium burden on other teams or the tax payers is beyond slimy. Just leave Arizona. The only downfall for Arizona is the lost revenue from the decrease in public urination tickets issued when Cub fans leave.

The Cubs are one of the MLB’s worst run Franchises. Fans of Quality Teams shouldnt have to pay the bill so they can stay in arizona and continue their mediocrity.

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