Gilbert officials say they are not interested in funding a new $90-million Milwaukee Brewers spring-training complex, but local business leaders say the team and a development partner may move forward with a privately financed camp.
Several months ago the Brewers and developer LGE Design Build approached officials with the suburban Phoenix community about the possibility of city funding a new complex near Loop 202 at Lindsay and Germann roads. After an economic study indicated the city would not recoup the construction costs of a complex featuring a a 7,500-seat ballpark, six practice fields, 55,000-square-foot clubhouse and 10,000-square-foot office, Mayor Jenn Daniels concluded talks with the team.
The local chamber of commerce, however, says there is economic justification (just barely) for a $3.5 million annual contribution to a scaled-back $75-million complex, accompanied by a $70-million retail/office/hotel development.
The Brewers are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to a new spring-training facility. The boom in new Cactus League facilities is over, as state and county funding has dried up. That leaves it up to communities and teams to fund spring-training facilities, and as we see in the case of Gilbert, most are not interested in extending the city’s credit for spring training. (Gilbert is not the first community approached by the Brewers: most famously, the team approached Peoria for funding on a second spring complex.) Phoenix has also been reluctant to fund upgrades to Maryvale Baseball Park and the adjacent training complex. While Maryvale Baseball Park is a perfectly nice little ballpark, it could use some upgrades, especially at the actual training areas.
Interestingly, the Brewers trained from 1986 to 1997 at Compadre Stadium in Chandler, some seven miles from the proposed Gilbert facility.
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