City fathers still haven’t learned how the game of spring training baseball is played, and the taxpayers have been had again.
For the second time in 14 years, the Chicago Cubs have played the threat of a move of their spring training headquarters to Florida against the city and its taxpayers.
Back in 1996, the city caved and the taxpayers spent millions to build the Cubs a beautiful new stadium just north of downtown Mesa.
Just 13 years later, the Cubs are already dissatisfied with that facility, and they threatened to move to Florida again.
To keep the Cubbies in Mesa, the city fathers promised yet another new stadium – this one costing a whopping $84 million! The money will come from taxpayers and private contributers.
In a back-patting session this week at the state capitol in Phoenix, team owners Tom and Laura Ricketts, and Cubs’ president Crane Kenney, made the announcement with Gov. Jan Brewer and Mesa city officials acting as cheerleaders. Mesa plans to build a new spring training complex despite a competing bid from Florida.
That’s the real game behind the game: teams in Arizona manipulate their host cities into spending millions of taxpayer dollars by threatening to move to Florida.
And guess what? Major league teams in Florida are doing the same thing there! They’re threatening their host cities by dangling the Arizona carrot.
If the cities in both states would let these ball clubs move away, they’d still end up with major league teams training in the present stadiums. That’s what they ought to do: make the clubs put their money where their mouth is and walk. As the Cubs head for Florida, they can wave to the teams heading for Arizona.
There couldn’t be a worse time, amidst this horrible recession, to soak the taxpayers for millions for a stadium that will be used for part of the month of March each year!
In 1996, Mesa demolished the old HoHoKam Stadium and built a new stadium, seating 12,500, by the same name and in time for spring training in 1997.
My, what a short shelf live these stadiums have. To be fair to the taxpayers, the new $84 million stadium ought to be used until 2075.