Pima County and the independent Freedom Baseball League are at loggerheads over a potential lease for Kino Stadium, which now sits empty after the move of the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).
Joe Sperle, president and partner in the Freedom Baseball League, has pitched county officials on a lease at $1,300 per game. The county hasn’t bit, saying the going rate for a lease is $3,800 per game, though there’s not much going on at the ballpark this summer. The league currently has four teams playing at Goodyear Stadium, and may have been a little premature in listing Kino Stadium as a league home. From Tucson News Now:
When the White Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks pulled up stakes and left town, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of county officials.
“I think there’s certainly a degree of trepidation surrounding all of that,” District V Supervisor Richard Elias said.
Sperle wants to start baseball at Kino in two weeks and needs a deal signed this week.
That appears to be a long shot at best.
There is a philosophical discussion in Tucson over the future of Kino Stadium and the former spring-training sites of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. Soccer is now regularly played at the complex. The former Tucson Padres — the current El Paso Chihuahuas — played a series there this season while their new El Paso ballpark was finished, but with other indy leagues (United League Baseball, Pecos League) indicating an interest in a Kino Stadium lease, county officials are looking at pro soccer to drive sports tourism.
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