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Goodyear pursuing spring training stadium
Christine L. Romero
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 27, 2006 12:00 AM Goodyear is stepping up to the plate again in the hopes of housing a two-team Major League Baseball facility.

Officials are asking landowners to collaborate on the project that would tap Goodyear into Arizona's robust tourism dollars stemming from spring training.

The Cactus League's spring training is big business in Arizona. More than a million fans pour an estimated $250 million annually into the state's economy.

Goodyear officials envision a 10,000-seat stadium on about 120 acres. That could cost upward of $50 million to $60 million, experts indicate. They figure the project could require at least 200 total acres to accommodate a facility and the development that would grow nearby.

Other cities, such as Peoria, have restaurants and theaters near their complexes.

City economic development staff sent letters out specifically to owners of large swaths of Goodyear land. They have until today to respond. The city had one official response Thursday afternoon.

"We are working on this very diligently," Goodyear Mayor Jim Cavanaugh said. "One issue is where would it be and how do we make that land affordable? But we need to make a decision soon."

Goodyear, nestled in the southwest Valley with about 42,000 residents, still has large areas of land available and is less than 20 percent built out.

But development continues rolling along, and large parcels are starting to get locked up as the price for land soars.

At build out, Goodyear is expected to have about 360,000 people. By contrast, Scottsdale is now home to about 220,000.

"Our interest is in developing a recreation campus that can be part of a bigger vision," Goodyear City Manager Stephen Cleveland said. "We can locate other developments with it and have a successful project. It can help stimulate other development."

The Arizona Baseball and Softball Commission previously asked Valley municipalities if anyone was interested in Cactus League expansion. Goodyear answered the call, along with several others, including Avondale, Buckeye, Casa Grande and Queen Creek.

This isn't the first time Goodyear has had big-league dreams.

The idea of moving the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to Goodyear from Tempe never left the talking stage a couple of years ago.

But Goodyear voters liked the idea of big-league baseball, and the city still holds $10 million in bonding capacity to help support a spring training and recreation facility.

Rules make it difficult to lure a team from within the Cactus League, forcing Arizona cities to look to teams that now train in Florida.

It takes more than dreams and desires to get Major League teams to move to Arizona.

Some Grapefruit League teams' names keep coming up when the subject of relocation arises, including the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, both of which trained in Arizona earlier.

Some also have pointed to the Cincinnati Reds as a team possibly looking for a new spring training facility.

"It's no secret that the Indians and Orioles here are looking for new spring training deals," said David Cardwell, executive director of the Florida Grapefruit League Association.

The Grapefruit League Association is working to find the Indians a new Florida location because the team's current complex is small and aging. The Indians' host city also has indicated that it would like to see condominiums and boutiques there.

"Cleveland is going year to year right now," said J.P. de la Montaigne, president of the Cactus League Association. "They have definitely made an impression they are looking to find a home."

The Orioles are facing funding issues but say they are happy in Sarasota, Fla., Cardwell said.

Goodyear's bid for a two-team spring training facility falls in line with the trend. The Valley's two newest stadiums in Peoria and Surprise were both created for two teams.

That arrangement means the stadium gets the maximum use during spring training with a game nearly every day. That translates into more tourism spending during the season.