2/9/10 Cubs & Cactus League update
Mesa city manager Chris Brady said Monday he’s hoping Cactus League teams opposed to a ticket surcharge on their spring games will meet with legislators to understand the plan. The White Sox and Diamondbacks were among the teams who voiced opposition to the ticket surcharge, which will be used to help pay for the Cubs’ new spring facility in Mesa.
“This is just the beginning of the process,” Brady told MLB.com on Monday. “The Cubs are too important to all those teams [in the Cactus League] that are complaining. If the Cubs go to Florida, I can assure you their [remaining Arizona teams] revenue will be dramatically less than it is today. They’ll be hit significantly if the Cubs aren’t in the Cactus League. We are concerned about the other teams. If the state of Arizona loses the Cubs, it’s a $130 million impact to the state. I don’t know if legislators want to give up that revenue stream in these difficult times.”
The opposition emerged as a bill to address funding was introduced at the Arizona Legislature Monday. The bill would likely create a surcharge of less than $1 on all 15 Cactus League tickets and a rental car tax. The new revenue would fund $59 million of the $84 million complex. The details of the bill are still being worked out.
The Cubs will be paying for the land for the stadium as well as paying the operating and maintainance costs for the stadium. The city of Mesa has been paying for the operating costs at HoHoKam Stadium and Fitch Park.
“There aren’t a lot of teams out there who pick up the cost 100 percent like the Cubs are proposing to do,” Brady said. “The Cubs have committed to doing additional development around the stadium. I don’t know of any other team in the Cactus League that does that.”
The proposed ticket surcharge hasn’t been well received. Last Friday, the other 14 Cactus League teams had a conference call to voice opposition of the plan.
“If it’s a choice between this surcharge and the Cubs leaving for Florida, I would gladly put on my work gloves and help them pack up the truck,” one Cactus League team official said.
What the city of Mesa will remind the other teams is that the Cubs drew 251,275 fans to their road Spring Training games in 2009, an average of 13,225 per game. The next-biggest draw was the Red Sox, who drew 208,550 fans total fans and an average of 10,976 to road contests.
– Carrie Muskat