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ASU, Phoenix sit down to discuss Muni lease

Arizona Sun DevilsWith a partnership with the Chicago Cubs on a facility dead, Arizona State University is turning to Phoenix Municipal Stadium as the future home of the Sun Devils baseball program.

ASU was slated to share a new Mesa spring-training facility with the Cubs, but negotiations over who pays what quickly turned sour, with Sun Devils athletics departments officials rather vocal about their belief the Cubs changed the terms of the deal to force ASU to pick up more costs of the facility. (The Cubs, who have been considerably quieter about the talks, counter by saying the school wanted to expand their presence at the facility past an original agreement, we’re told.) We had reported last week ASU officials were expected to explore a Phoenix Muni lease; that indeed happened.

In any case, with Packard Stadium slated for demolition to make way for new development, the school is looking at a new home for the baseball team. Moving off-campus, which would have been off the table several years ago, is now seen as a route to success after rival UA moved the Wildcats baseball program to Hi Corbett Field and both increased attendance and won a College World Series.

Phoenix Muni would seem to be a natural for Sun Devils baseball. It’s fairly close to campus, it’s a pro-level facility (currently serving as the spring home of the Oakland Athletics and the former home to Minor League Baseball in the city), and it will be empty once the A’s — as expected — move to HoHoKam Park in 2014, replacing the Cubs. If you’re a ballpark fan, it has the advantage of keeping a historic facility open; if you’re a spring-training plan, it adds an upgraded facility if you visit the Valley of the Sun in February and March. (We know some will lament the move of baseball off campus. Usually we argue college baseball teams should play on an on-campus venue. But this instance is a little different, and a move to Phoenix Muni is clearly a move up from the old and uncomfortable Packard Stadium.) And if you’re a Phoenix elected official, you plug a hole in the budget. Everyone wins.

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