Despite the anti-tax sentiment carrying the day in most of America, Mesa voters yesterday voted to spend almost $100 million on a new Chicago Cubs spring-training facility, funded by higher hotel taxes and a selloff of city land.
The approval came via two ballot issues. The first, which passed with 63 percent of the vote, authorized the city to exceed its spending limits on sporting facilities. The second, which passed by a narrower margin (with 58 percent of the vote), authorized the city to raise the hotel tax by two percentage points (to 5 percent) to help pay for it. Mesa will also sell land in remote Pinal County to pay down debt on the facility.
As part of the deal the Cubs will sign a 30-year lease for the facility. About $84 million is budgeted for the spring complex itself; another $15 million will be used for infrastructure.
The vote means that a new spring-training complex will be built for the Cubs at the 125-acre Riverview Park site in the northwest corner of the city. The city owns the land but already has a development deal with a waterpark company on part of the site; it's likely that the waterpark could become part of the larger Cubs training complex. Besides the Cubs training facility, the Ricketts family will privately develop a Wrigleyville West retail/restaurant complex.
It's a big win for the Cubs: earlier polling had indicated the measures may not pass, but the team spent heavily on media and trotted out Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, to personally lobby voters for their approval.
One loose thread: what to do with HoHoKam Park. The Cubs have pledged to help Mesa officials find a new tenant.
Rendering courtesy of Keep the Cubs.
RELATED STORIES: Wooing voters, Mesa and Cubs release ballpark renderings; Riverside Park emerges as choice for Cubs spring-training facilities; Study evaluates potential Cubs spring-training sites ; Five sites emerge as home for new Cubs facility; Cubs to Naples: We prefer to stay in Arizona, thank you; Florida group to Cubs: Tell us if we're really in the running to land spring training; Naples: We think we still have shot at landing Cubs spring training; Cubs, Mesa working on new spring-ballpark agreement; Mesa: We'll finance Cubs ballpark on our own; State funding for Cubs spring facility "dead"; Florida explores new money for luring Cactus League teams; Selig pushes Cubs aside, will directly negotiate funding of new spring venue; Legislators: Yup, we want Cactus League ticket tax; Cubs: We're not wedded to idea of Cactus League ticket tax; Cactus League teams, Selig oppose Cubs spring-training funding; Mesa to ask for state aid to keep Cubs; Cubs seriously looking at Naples spring-training bid; Naples: We're serious about landing the Cubs; Ricketts to visit Mesa next week to tour potential spring-training sites; Lawmaker: Florida should up spending to lure spring camps for Cubs, Brewers; Cubs' spring-training future doesn't lie in HoHoKam Park; Mesa delegation to pitch Cubs on spring-training facilities
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at email@example.com.
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see features before they're posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.
Join Ballpark Digest on Facebook and on Twitter!
|< Prev||Next >|