Results tagged ‘ Naples ’

11/4 Ricketts to tour Mesa sites

The Ricketts family was to tour Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday by helicopter to look at potential sites along the Loop 202 freeway for the Cubs’ Spring Training home. Last month, new Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was in Collier County, Fla., to do the same, looking at three sites near Naples.

The Cubs want 120 contiguous acres where they can build a 15,000-seat stadium, have at least six practice fields, and upgraded facilities for player development. The team has outgrown its current site in Mesa.

On Tuesday night, Arizona officials delivered their sales pitch to the Ricketts family at a dinner at the Red Mountain Ranch Country Club. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer attended, and the session included a video message from Sen. John McCain, who wished the Cubs a World Series victory, according to the East Valley Tribune.

“Please stay with us,” McCain said.

Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, who is president of the Phoenix Greater Economic Council, also made a presentation.

“We’re really committed to make sure we can address all your issues,” Bidwill said.

The Cubs’ contract with Mesa and HoHoKam Stadium allows the team to buy out of the deal after 2012. The team has practiced in Mesa since the 1950s, and called its current site home since 1979. The Cubs are the top draw in the Cactus League, and a recent survey showed they provide $52 million to the state’s economy.

– Carrie Muskat 

10/25 Cubs look at Naples sites

Could the Cubs move their Spring Training site to Florida? A Naples, Fla., newspaper reports a group was formed four months ago for the purpose of making Collier County the Spring Training home of the Cubs. The Florida group has met with Cubs chairman Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts, whose family is taking over as the team’s owner.

“The Chicago Cubs are exploring Naples, Fla., as a potential Spring Training venue and have been working with Chicago-based Esmark and Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors in that regard,” Kenney confirmed in a statement to the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. “Our site visits and discussions confirm that Collier County has a number of suitable locations for a world-class Spring Training facility.”

Cubs officials toured the area by helicopter to see what locations may be suitable. Craig Bouchard, who is a co-founder of Esmark Inc., said it was clear after their meeting that Ricketts and Kenney’s “objective is to do what is best for Cubs fans. They want to win a World Series. And they want to build the very best organization they can.”

The Cubs are believed to be looking for 120 contiguous acres. The Sports Management Division of Esmark is a principal sponsor of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Bouchards are principal owners of the Naples Tennis Club. Craig Bouchard, is a Cubs fan, and was an official with First National Bank of Chicago. He still has a home in the Chicago area.

The price tag for the venture could exceed $80 million, the newspaper reported. Bouchard said they are pursuing every avenue, public and private, to finance the project and not raise property or sales taxes of the residents of Collier County.

“I committed to Crane that Esmark will invest and take a leadership role in the stadium project,” Bouchard said.

The Cubs’ 25-year lease with the city of Mesa expires in 2016. The team has an escape clause, which allows the Cubs to pay $4.2 million to the city next spring in order to leave Mesa in 2012. Recent studies have shown that the Cubs bring in more than $52 million to Arizona, and more than $30 million to the city of Mesa.

The Cubs have called Mesa their Spring Training home since the 1950s, and permanent home since 1979.

“We are still a long shot,” Bouchard said of Naples as a site for the Cubs, “but I agree with the mayor of Mesa that we are a serious threat. We offer an outstanding destination for families, award-winning beaches and a belief we can put together a proposal that is favored by the Cubs. Sometimes, long shots win.”

Collier County has never had a Spring Training team. The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins play nearby in Fort Myers.

Ricketts was expected to tour four sites in Mesa in November during the Cubs’ organizational meetings.

– Carrie Muskat

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

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