Results tagged ‘ Naples ’

7/14 Cubs to stay in Mesa

The Cubs’ Spring Training facility will apparently stay in Mesa, Ariz. Team officials have notified the Naples, Fla., group trying to lure the Cubs to the Sunshine State that they will continue exclusive negotiations with Mesa beyond Monday’s deadline. The Cubs and Mesa had established a July 12 deadline in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to have financing in place for the new facility.

On Sunday, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told Chicago reporters in Los Angeles that he anticipated the team would continue working with Mesa. Chairman Crane Kenney echoed that sentiment Tuesday in a statement.

“The Cubs are appreciative of the efforts from the Naples team to provide the club with a first-rate Spring Training facility,” Kenney said. “Naples is a world-class city and could undoubtedly provide our organization and fans an exceptional facility and experience.

“Despite the opportunity that exists in Naples, for the time being we will continue our work in Mesa to build a new Spring Training facility there,” Kenney said.

Mesa recently announced a financing plan for an $84 million complex with the money coming from the city, not the state. Initial funds to pay for a new stadium would come from the city’s enterprise fund, according to Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Those funds would be replenished over a 15- to 20-year period from sales of Mesa’s surplus land holdings in Pinal County.

The Cubs have a board meeting scheduled for Thursday in Chicago.

Mesa voters will be asked in November to approve two measures that could affect the new Spring Training project. One is to raise the city’s bed tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Mesa voters also must agree if the city is to spend more than $1.5 million on an entertainment or sports venue.

Naples made a strong push for the team, led by Craig Bouchard, an executive with Chicago-based Esmark, Inc.

“In our discussions with the Cubs we asked for them to provide our group with an exclusive negotiating period,” Bouchard said in a statement released Tuesday night. “The Cubs politely declined and will continue to negotiate with Mesa for the time being. We understand the importance of loyalty and wish them well. We also respect 57 years of support from Mesa. Therefore, we have respectfully withdrawn our offer.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Mesa update

The Arizona state legislature adjourned Thursday without passing legislation the Cubs need to keep their Spring Training site in Mesa, Ariz. However, that doesn’t mean the Cubs are headed to Florida.

The Cubs and Mesa officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in late January that provides exclusive negotiation between the team and the city. One of the conditions of the MOU was that the legislature determine some kind of funding by July 12. Although lawmakers ended their session Thursday without a decision, they still could call a special session.

The Cubs are the top-drawing Spring Training team and have been wooed by officials from Naples, Fla., to relocate their facility there.

The Cubs declined to comment Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

3/3 Lou on Cubs, Mesa

The Cubs kickoff Cactus League play on Thursday, playing host to the Athletics at HoHoKam Park. This is the 32nd consecutive season in Mesa. Do the Cubs need a new spring facility? Lou Piniella said if they could build one complex, the team wouldn’t have to make the move from Fitch Park to HoHoKam, which it did Tuesday. There also is limited workspace at HoHoKam. The back field is not full size and there are three batting cages. HoHoKam seats 13,100; the Cubs would like a bigger stadium.

“I remember the 10 years with Seattle [in Peoria, Ariz.], we had wonderful fields,” Piniella said. “We had four Major League fields, two other Minor League fields. We had six fields we could do all our work in. Here, it’s limited.”

Piniella did say the Cubs’ current spring facilities are not the reason they haven’t won a World Championship. If the team can’t get a new set-up, they could still move to Florida.

“It would be hard for me to imagine baseball here without the Cubs being a mainstay,” Piniella said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/5/10 Spring send off

The Cubs will get a sendoff for the 2010 season from some hopeful Chicago-area students. On Tuesday, the truck carrying equipment more than 1,800 miles from Wrigley Field to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Ariz., will depart. Besides luggage, workout equipment and a few sets of golf clubs, the load will include letters written by children at the Inter-American Magnet School in Chicago. The letters are addressed to the Cubs players.

GM Jim Hendry, who is attending the Super Bowl in Miami this weekend to cheer on the Indianapolis Colts, will be on hand for the festivities, presented by Mastercard.

This will be the Cubs’ 32nd consecutive Spring Training in Mesa, and 13th at the current HoHoKam Park and Fitch Park facilities. The team had been considering a move to Naples, Fla., but recently gave the city of Mesa exclusive negotiating rights to complete a proposal for a new facility.

Pitchers and catchers will have their first workout Feb. 18, and the first spring game is March 4 against Oakland.

— Carrie Muskat

1/21/10 Mesa delivers proposal

The Cubs board of directors received a proposal Thursday outlining the city of Mesa’s plans to keep the team there for Spring Training for the next 25 years.

Cubs officials had yet to review the memorandum of understanding (MOU), which details that the team and city will sign a 25-year agreement, build a 15,000-seat stadium as well as a state of the art year-round facility.

“The Cubs are interested in reading through Mesa’s proposal and having our board take it under review,” a team spokesman said Thursday.

The Mesa city council will vote on the MOU on Monday, and if approved, the team could announce as early as Wednesday that it has agreed to the terms. A group in Naples, Fla., also had been competing for the Cubs in hopes of luring the team to Florida, but such a move would be unlikely if the proposal is approved by both the city and team.

How important are the Cubs? A recent study showed they contribute $52 million to the state’s economy.

The proposal released Thursday by Mesa city manager Chris Brady, establishes a period for exclusive negotiations between the city of Mesa and the Cubs.

According to the MOU, the Cubs would acquire the land to handle the stadium, parking and public access roads. The site has not been officially identified, but was believed to be located in northeast Mesa off the Loop 202. The team would maintain and operate the stadium and ancillary facilities year-round and handle construction costs over the agreed amount of $84 million.

The city of Mesa will provide adequate land for the construction of the ancillary facilities and a Major League-dimensioned, shared-use four-diamond baseball complex. The city also would meet milestones related to passage of state legislation required to fund a portion of the construction of the facility and approval by Mesa voters.

In exchange for the exclusivity, the city would amend the current lease with the team and eliminate the penalty for early termination. The Cubs, who have trained at the current site in Mesa since 1979, had the ability to buyout of the contract after 2012.

— Carrie Muskat

1/15/10 Spring Training update

Mesa officials traditionally have a booth at the Cubs Convention to provide information for fans who want to go to Arizona for Spring Training. It’ll be interesting to see the response at this weekend’s event — and if the Naples, Fla., contingent stops by.

A decision on where the Cubs will move their Spring Training headquarters was expected next week, and it seems everyone is jumping into the prediction business. A USA Today writer posted a message on Twitter that “The Cubs likely will leave Mesa, AZ, for Naples, Fla., for Spring Training barring the state of AZ coming up with unforeseen money.”

Gary Price, partner in Fifth Avenue Advisors, which is working with Chicago-based Esmark, Inc., to bring the Cubs to Collier County, told the Naples Daily News on Thursday that he had not heard anything from the team.

“Nothing has happened,” Price told the newspaper on Thursday. “And I have no date for when anything is going to happen. Pretty soon they are going to get together but I don’t know when they are going to make a final decision or public announcement. We have delivered everything to them to make the decision but I don’t have any control or insight. [Team president Crane Kenney] hasn’t told me anything.”

Price said he feels the decision will come down to what the Ricketts family wants for the future of the Cubs.

“The beautiful thing is [each community] has equal strengths and equal hurdles,” Price said. “Each of us has strengths and significant hurdles to overcome but I believe the decision is going to be based on where the future is and at some point that’s what the family is going to have to figure out.”

The Florida group has released copies of 18 letters, including ones from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, the Economic Development Council of Collier County, and the Collier County Hotel and Lodging Association supporting the Cubs’ move to Collier County. The letters have been delivered to the Cubs.

“I believe these letters are critical to our effort,” said Craig Bouchard, vice chairman of Esmark. “They are from very important business organizations as well as from [politicians] in our state. It was humbling to receive such a strong show of support.”

Once the Cubs pick a state, the winning group would have 120 days to secure funding.

Bouchard and others from Naples were expected to attend the sold out weekend Cubs Convention, which begins Friday at the Chicago Hilton.

— Carrie Muskat

1/12/10 Naples, Fla., Spring Training update

Want to know more details about the Cubs’ possible move of their Spring Training facility to Florida? On Wednesday, the investor group leading the “Cubs to Florida” effort will meet with the editorial board of the Naples Daily News, and the session will be broadcast on the newspaper’s website.

The Cubs could make a decision as early as next week as to whether they will stay in Mesa, Ariz., or move to Florida.

Craig Bouchard, co-founder and vice chairman of Chicago-based Esmark Inc., and Gary Price, managing partner and principal of Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors, will take part in the meeting, scheduled for 1 p.m. CT. Also attending the session will be Craig Lyon, managing partner and principal with Fifth Avenue Advisors.

The investor group will review its proposal to bring the Cubs’ Spring Training complex to Collier County and present a detailed overview of the many local and state benefits its plan would offer.

The Cubs are the top prize in the Cactus League. A recent study showed they bring $52 million to the state of Arizona. Florida officials say out of town Red Sox fans directly spend $23.9 million into the Lee County economy in Spring Training.
Here are some details of the Florida group’s proposal regarding the Cubs:

* The facility will be leased and maintained by the Cubs under a 20- to 30-year contract. Private investors will build the Wrigley Village commercial district.

* The facility will consist of a 15,000-seat stadium, practice fields, Major and Minor League clubhouses and the Cubs baseball operations headquarters.

* Collier County taxpayers will not pay for the facility. Funding is proposed to come from private sources, fees paid by tourists, and state funds set aside for baseball.

* No county sales tax or ad valorem (property) tax is proposed to fund this project.

* Outside of Spring Training, the complex will host adult and Little League baseball and softball tournaments, concerts, art festivals and special events.

— Carrie Muskat

1/9/10 Mesa update

Here’s information from a story in Saturday’s Arizona Republic:

Mesa leaders are drafting a bill to be introduced in the state legislature to finance a new Cubs Spring Training complex if the team decides to stay in Arizona. The Cubs are expected to announce this month if they will remain in Arizona or move their spring HQ to Florida.

The Arizona Republic reported that the bill would build on the present model used to finance new spring facilities in the state in the past decade by raising tourism-related fees. The Cubs are looking at sites in east Mesa.

There’s a reason Arizona and Florida are fighting for the Cubs. A study concluded the team is worth $52 million a year to Arizona in tourism revenue. The Cubs can opt out of their contract with Mesa this spring and leave as early as 2012 after paying $4.2 million.

“I’m confident we’re not going to whiff,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith told the newspaper.

He said Arizona cannot afford to lose the Cubs in the middle of the recession and building a new complex to keep the team is a good investment.

“If we lose the Cubs, it will only make the situation worse. We would lose tens of millions of dollars from the economy when we need it the most,” Smith said.

Although the bill’s details are still being negotiated, officials have discussed imposing a league-wide ticket surcharge and possibly increasing the rental car tax in Maricopa County, already among the highest in the nation.

The money would be funneled to Mesa through the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which has financed new stadiums since 2001. All of its funding is committed for existing ballparks through 2031. Mesa is promised $8.2 million in 2020, far short of a new complex’s price tag.

“We need to come up with a solution that will take care of the Cubs without tapping into general fund money,” Smith said. The first priority would be financing the new Cubs facility, with any additional revenue paying for renovations at other Cactus League parks.

Mesa and most other Cactus League venues already impose a ticket surcharge to recoup some of their operating costs. The proposed league-wide surcharge would be in addition to city surcharges.

First, the Cubs have to pick Mesa over Naples. Then, the legislature has to approve the funding bill. Third, Smith said, Mesa voters would have to approve the expenditure of city revenues in November. A new complex would cost at least $80 million. The majority of the money would come from the Tourism and Sports Authority, but Smith said there also would be a “substantial” investment by private sources.

— Carrie Muskat

1/6/10 Mesa update

The city of Mesa was expected to decide whether to spend $684,000 to build covered batting cages at the Cubs’ Fitch Park facility by the end of the week.

City manager Chris Brady told the Arizona Republic a decision should be made by Thursday at the latest and that if approved, the work could still be done in time for 2010 Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 18.

The city is still waiting to hear if the Cubs will keep their Spring Training headquarters in Mesa or move to Naples, Fla. Brady met with Cubs officials on Dec. 18 in Chicago and came away from the meeting optimistic that the team would remain in Arizona. Officials connected with the Naples proposal still plan on having a rally sometime this month in Collier County.

The Cubs were expected to make a decision this month.

— Carrie Muskat

12/30 Florida rally ppd.

A rally to garner support for relocating the Cubs’ Spring Training facility to Collier County in Florida has been postponed because it was scheduled to run the same time as the Cubs Convention.

The rally was to have been held Jan. 16. The Cubs Convention runs Jan. 15-17 in Chicago.

Florida organizers will set a new date “more conducive for fans in southwest Florida as well from the Midwest states to attend,” according to

“We didn’t want to have it at the same time (because we heard) people were going up for the convention,” Gary Price, a partner in Fifth Avenue Advisors, told the Naples Daily News. “It’s a huge event and we didn’t want this to be something where people had to choose.”

The Cubs are looking at sites near Naples, Fla., in Collier County as well as in Mesa, Ariz. The team was expected to make an announcement in mid January.

— Carrie Muskat