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