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Financial issues facing Cactus League cities

Camelback Ranch-Glendale

Cities that were relying on Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority for new spring-training complexes in the Cactus League may face some serious issues, as ASTA officials put off scheduled payments and warn of further shortfalls.

The issue is simple: the two main sources of tax revenue for ASTA — a 1 percent hotel tax and 3.25 percent rental-car tax — is far below projections, while a legal challenge may decrease that amount even more. We’re talking about some big bucks here: Glendale is counting on $60 million, while Goodyear is expecting $57.5 million. ASTA is actually under no legal obligation to provide the funds, so if ASTA shuts down, the cities will be left holding the bag. From Spring Training Online:

Nine Phoenix-area cities will be facing tough choices, as Cactus League financial issues stemming from decreased Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority assistance is affecting ballpark and spring-training-complex financing.

The basic issue: the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority is receiving less in the way of a 1 percent hotel tax and 3.25 percent rental-car tax; initial projections were on the optimistic side, and a recession put on more hurt. Nine municipalities were counting on ASTA funds when committing to new spring-training complexes, and ASTA officials are now deferring funding to 2020 and beyond — and some warn that there may be no money available at all, given a recent court decision knocking down ASTA’s tax collection as being unconstitutional.

What this means for the future: because of Cactus League financial issues you won’t see a new spring-training complex built in the Cactus League in coming years, unless it’s privately financed by a business or Indian tribe a la Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Indeed, the new-complex action will be in Florida, which took a more conservative approach to spring-training funding and is now in a position to fund new complexes and upgrades.


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