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If MLB returns, Tucson wants in

Major League BaseballIf Major League Baseball implements a plan to host all 30 teams playing in empty Arizona ballparks, Tucson officials say they’re willing to host a division’s worth of teams.

While we’re not close to a resumption of the MLB season, there is certainly enough chatter about the industry about a plan that would have the 10 spring-training facilities, Chase Field and two college ballparks (Phoenix Municipal Stadium and GCU Ballpark) in the Phoenix area hosting all MLB games, sans fans, with players and team personnel basically quarantined in local hotels. There are some logistical challenges here, to be sure, with lots of games scheduled for Chase Field. But in general it’s too early to discuss the feasibility and scheduling of such a plan: we’re not close to having the level of COVID-19 testing required by MLB officials before any plan can move forward. And, of course, the players union needs to sign off as well.

Wanting in on this action: Tucson, which features two former spring-training venues (Kino Stadium and Hi Corbett Field) and workout facilities once used by the Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Kino sports complex does host large events like tournaments and MLS spring training. Tucson is 110 miles or so from Phoenix, which would require some additional travel from players. From the Arizona Daily Star:

Pima County, which runs Kino Sports Complex, has reached out to MLB through its contacts with the World Baseball Classic. Visit Tucson talked to Cactus League officials about the availability of both Kino Stadium and Hi Corbett Field. Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said the UA will do its part to help the community.

At least one local businessman, attorney Ali Farhang, has been advocating for Tucson should a viable plan materialize.

Farhang said the city could host a division’s worth of teams, who could then either bus or take charter planes to the Phoenix area. The teams could stay at Tucson resorts, play golf on the adjacent courses and experience the city’s warm weather and hospitality in between games. Grapefruit League teams would make the most sense, as they don’t already have facilities in the Phoenix area.

With daily news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’ve launched a Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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