Proposition 420 is providing Mesa voters the opportunity to determine whether or not to fund a new stadium and baseball training complex for the Chicago Cubs. As I pondered which position to take, the movie title, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” jumped into my mind.
After studying the issue, here is the good, the bad and the ugly of the issue as I see it.
• The economic impact of the Cubs’ year-round presence in Arizona will continue and is estimated to exceed $130 million per year.
• The Cubs will make a 30-year commitment to stay in Mesa.
• The Cubs will assume about $2 million in maintenance/operations costs of the new complex.
• Potential sales tax revenue from the new “Wrigleyville” development should enhance the city revenue picture in the future.
• Funding for the new complex is available without cutting existing city services.
• Enhancements to Riverview Park and lake will improve that public space for neighborhood residents.
• The city spent millions of dollars in 1996/97 to renovate Hohokam stadium and the Fitch Park training complex along with a 25,000-square-foot clubhouse for the Cubs.
• The existing Hohokam/Fitch Park facility is an excellent facility and would meet the training needs of the Cubs with minor enhancements.
• The city says it will try to recruit another major league team to utilize the Hohokam complex, so it must be a viable facility for spring training.
• Until a new team is found for the Hohokam/Fitch complex, the city will have to pay maintenance costs for the facility. Public use will not cover the costs.
• The city will have to pay to relocate/develop the Riverview softball fields that will be lost as federal funds were partially utilized to develop Riverview. This will be at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
• A reasonably priced golfing experience will be eliminated with the loss of Riverview Golf Course.
• Revenue from the sale of the Pinal County land that will be utilized to partially fund the new complex could be utilized for other more public uses such as the enhancement of aging parks, trails and other community amenities.
• The softball fields and golf course are located in west Mesa, which according to the City Parks Plan, has a deficiency in parks and other recreational amenities.
• The Billionaire owner of the Cubs wants more money for his own pockets with the development of “Wrigleyville.”
• In all probability, I would expect that some type of tax incentives will be requested for the development of “Wrigleyville.”
• It has been 13 years since millions were spent for the enhancement of Hohokam/Fitch. How much will it cost for enhancement of the new complex in the next 13 years?
• The Cubs are not the only team that has threatened to leave a city unless new spring training facilities are developed, and they won’t be the last.
Being a Chicago native, I would love for the Cubs to stay here the next 30 years, but I hope each and every voter will make a good decision on what will serve Mesa the best. There will be good and bad whatever the voters decide.
For me, I thoroughly dislike the “Ugly.”
Bill Exham moved to Scottsdale from Chicago in 1972 and has resided in Mesa since 1979.