View Full Version : Arizona looking to woo Reds

11-13-2007, 06:34 PM
Arizona looking to woo Reds

Carrie Watters, Jessica Coomes and Tony Lombardo
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 13, 2007 12:00 AM
Voters in Sarasota, Fla., recently rejected paying for renovations to the Cincinnati Reds' training stadium, which leaves the team looking for a new spring home - and Arizona wondering if it could snare another Florida team.

Eyes are on Tucson, where the Chicago White Sox need to find a replacement team to get out of their lease and move to the Valley. The Sox plan to team up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a spring-training ballpark that Glendale hopes to open in 2009.

"We would love to have the Reds in the Cactus League. The logical place, considering the dynamics, would be Tucson Electric Park," said Brad Wright, an Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority board member who heads the Cactus League committee. "The first priority is a commitment to Tucson and the White Sox to make sure they can meet their obligation there."

The sports authority, which operates only in Maricopa County, has no authority in Tucson but is offering its political clout.

Gov. Janet Napolitano's office, which supported nabbing the long-coveted Dodgers from Florida, also says Tucson is a critical piece of the state's spring-training league.

But Jeff Schatzki, director of the governor's Arizona Baseball and Softball Commission, said it's not his position to tell other municipalities to back off of pursuing a piece of Cactus League action, which pumped a reported $311 million into the economy last season.

Nor would Schatzki tell a franchise where to locate. "It's a business decision," he said.

The Sox had no comment as of late last week, and the Reds are keeping mum on whether they'll stay in Florida.

"We are considering all of our options, including Arizona," Reds spokesman Rob Butcher said.

White Sox representative John Kaites has asked publicly that other Arizona cities not actively seek teams until a replacement is found in Tucson.

But Tucson is not the only city that could handle another team:

Goodyear has made it no secret it eventually wants a second team to join the Cleveland Indians, who will move there from Florida in 2009.

Casa Grande had been looking for a team to jump-start spring baseball there.

Surprise has space to accommodate a third team with the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals, but the city is not actively seeking one.

In its 4,431-4,206 vote Nov. 6, Sarasota voters decided not to spend $16 million to help rebuild the Reds' spring-training home, Ed Smith Stadium. That is forcing the Reds to start scouting for a new home for as early as 2009.

Tucson's position
Tucson has faced criticism that it is too far to travel from the Valley, where nine of Arizona's 12 teams currently train.

The closeness of the Cactus League's ballparks has been touted as an advantage over the Grapefruit League, where teams must crisscross Florida.

Schatzki and officials in Pima County brushed off the idea that Tucson is too isolated. Indeed, it's where the Cactus League got its start in 1946, with the Indians in Tucson and the New York Giants in Phoenix.

"Spring training has its roots in Tucson," Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry said.

But the Old Pueblo is in a precarious spot.

It has two parks. The Colorado Rockies play at Hi Corbett, which the city operates. The Arizona Diamondbacks and White Sox share Tucson Electric Park, which Pima County operates.

If the Sox can't find a replacement and head north when their lease expires in 2012, the Rockies could opt to pull out, too.

Tucson officials say that the Diamondbacks and Rockies are committed to the area and that they are committed to getting a third team.

"It's more interesting now that the Sarasota vote has taken place," he said.

Other options
Casa Grande had about given up hope of landing a Major League team after Goodyear secured the Indians and Glendale landed the White Sox and Dodgers in 2006.

"I'm not sure we have that same level of enthusiasm," Casa Grande Mayor Bob Jackson said.

Still, Bill Brudwill, who has spearheaded Casa Grande's efforts, went from dejected to enthusiastic after hearing about the Sarasota election.

"We could fire this thing back up in a heartbeat," he said.

Goodyear has talked preliminarily with the Reds, among many baseball teams, Mayor Jim Cavanaugh said.

The mayor said he likes the idea of having another Ohio team in Goodyear to join the Indians.

"Goodyear, I'm sure, would love to have the Reds," Cavanaugh said.

Wright said the funding formula, which currently stands at funding 50 percent of Goodyear's one-team facility and two-thirds of Glendale's two-team facility, was firm and would not change if Goodyear picked up a second team. The sports authority has said its funding for new ballparks is tapped for the next quarter-century.

Reds officials visited the Surprise ballpark nine months ago and asked if the city was interested in a third team, said Mark Coronado, the city's community and recreation services director.

While having the Reds is an "intriguing" option, Coronado said the cost would be a hurdle.

"Without a funding source, it's a major challenge, not just for Surprise but for any community," Coronado said, adding it would take as much as $20 million to accommodate a third team.


11-13-2007, 07:22 PM
Arizona would be great. The weather in Florida can be iffy in the spring and too darn many people. Arizona is perfect in the spring, cool nights and warm days and almost zero rain. And, the ball parks are close enough together you can almost (note the word "almost") OD on baseball in a week trip.

11-13-2007, 09:56 PM
Too far from Griffey's house.

11-13-2007, 10:21 PM
is it just me, or does anyone else just not care about the spring training facility? lol.

11-14-2007, 12:13 PM
I care, I live in NC, and can make the drive to Fl, which I have done nearly every year since I was in high school, even if only for a long weekend, which I did several times. In college, when mos tother students are hitting the beaches, I would throw a tent in the back of my car and head down and follow the Reds around Fl on my own. If they move to AZ, I doubt I ever catch another spring training, which is sad to me, they have always been so much fun. Oh yeah, in my 13-14 years of ST, it has only rained on me during a game one time.

11-14-2007, 01:45 PM
I don't think AZ makes any sense in light of the large number of Ohio snowbirds who winter in FL and the fact that FL is a doable drive from OH. It's also closer for those TN, WV, IN and KY regional fans that the Reds are trying to win over/back.

If AZ is willing to pay the Reds $30MM per year and we can use that money to sign A-Rod or Santana, I'm willing to be open-minded. :)

11-14-2007, 05:43 PM
Arizona is nice but the Reds belong in Florida.
I am hoping for Vero but the best place would be St Pete.

11-14-2007, 05:50 PM
I'm all for wherever offers us the best deal. If that happens to be in Arizona then so be it. I honestly would like to go to Arizona for Spring Training. It's got to be cheaper to go there. It was really expensive in Sarasota last year.

11-14-2007, 05:52 PM
I dont understand how Sarasota could give up all the revenue over $16mil while Broward County just spent $70 on a cricket park.


LAUDERHILL - The long-awaited, $70 million Central Broward Regional Park — the most expensive new park the county has built — opens today, drawing local dignitaries and international cricket officials to one of the most ethnically diverse cities in South Florida. The 110-acre site, at the intersection of State Road 7 and Sunrise Boulevard, is a sprawling campus of picnic shelters, pavilions and shaded playgrounds. In the middle sits a 5,000-seat multipurpose stadium designed as the first international cricket venue in North America.

"It was just a vacant lot, nothing here," said Bill Kristen, the county parks and recreation project manager, as he surveyed the property. "I think everybody realized the area had to be revitalized."

11-14-2007, 06:04 PM
I'm all for wherever offers us the best deal. If that happens to be in Arizona then so be it. I honestly would like to go to Arizona for Spring Training. It's got to be cheaper to go there. It was really expensive in Sarasota last year.
I cant say anything about spring training in Arizona but I never found anything inexpensive there.
I went to oening day at Bank One Ballpark about 10 years ago.I sat in the second row behind the dugout for $200.There is a Mcdonalds in the park. 2 Quarter Pounder value meals came to $20.00.

11-14-2007, 06:24 PM
I just moved to Florida and I am looking for to visiting spring training here every year. I hope someone here in the Sunshine State steps up.

11-14-2007, 06:33 PM
I hope that something can be worked out so the Reds stay in Florida. I thought the Sarasota area was excellent. You had within a 45 minute drive to the north, the Devil Rays, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates & Blue Jays. Alittle east, the Braves & Tigers and south of Sarasota, the Twins and Red Sox in the Fort Myers area. Arizona having been there several years ago (ok like 15 years ago) has great weather, but after baseball, what else for the fans from the Midwest. In Florida, its a 15 hours drive from my house in Illinois, I would probably spend the same amount of time by the time I connected or drove to Chicago or St. Louis to fly out to Phoenix plus still have to rent a car etc. It just seems more fan friendly for the Reds to stay in the Florida area. I usually go down every other year to Spring Training in Sarasota and Plant City before that and even went when I was a kid to Al Lopez in Tampa. The Gulf Side of Florida just seems to be the natural place to stay.

11-14-2007, 10:27 PM
I haven't missed but one ST in the last 9 years, mostly due to the fact I have cheap accomodations in Ft.Myers. I time my visit to where I can catch the Reds against the Redsox and Twins in Ft. Myers, and am 90 minutes away from Sarasota. There is so much more to do in Fla. vs. Az. for those who want to do other things while there. And of course, ST nicely coincides with Spring Break, and all the beaches in the Ft. Myers area are over-flowing with drunk, crazy, beautiful co-eds in skimpy bikinis,-- or less!!! What does Az. have to rival that? The Ft. Myers area is interested in adding another team's Spring facility. Also, Devil Rays will move to nearby Port Charlotte just half an hour away next year. The Reds wouldn't even need a bus to get to 1/3 of their ST games. The airport there is brand new, and huge beyond current traffic, with plenty of reasonable flights in and out from Cincy, Dayton, or Columbus. Ft. Myers/Lee County I say! Reds fans will love it.

11-15-2007, 08:26 AM
I wonder how the facilities are in Tucson, since the Reds object to the conditions at Sarasota. It would be disappointing to uproot the team from Florida unless they get cushy new digs in Arizona.

11-15-2007, 10:56 AM
Tucson Electric is a great baseball facilty. However, there are many other considerations, i.e, Florida State League, Gulf Coast Rookie League, team transportation costs, per diem and daily expense money for players, and lastly lodging. I would give metro Phoenix the nod before Tucson any day. Sarasota needs to put up a better park. Both cities gouge the snowbirds during prime season.