A move by the Oakland Athletics to Hohokam Stadium is all but a done deal, thanks to action Thursday by the Mesa City Council.
The council approved a memorandum of understanding sketching the broad outlines of an agreement that will bring the A’s to Mesa for at least 20 years, with options for two five-year extensions.
Oakland conducted spring training in Mesa 1969-78 — an era whose legendary teams won consecutive World Series 1972-74.
“We think they’re sort of coming home,” Mayor Scott Smith said. “When I was in junior high and high school, the A’s were the team in Mesa with Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Rick Monday — the ASU trio.”
Oakland has trained at Phoenix Municipal Stadium since 1984. But their lease expires at the end of 2014, the same year the Phoenix stadium turns 50, and the team couldn’t reach an agreement with Phoenix about upgrading the ballpark.
Phoenix Muni is now seen as the most likely future home for the Arizona State University baseball team, which would be displaced if ASU moves ahead with plans to redevelop the site of Packard Stadium.
Wolff said Phoenix had told the A’s it couldn’t afford to upgrade Muni to match the team’s desires. “We really needed a major remodeling of the Municipal Stadium,” he said. Lacking that, “we started looking for another option.”
The expiration of Oakland’s contract with Phoenix was perfectly timed, he said, with the Cubs’ departure from Hohokam, leaving a window during which Hohokam can be renovated before the A’s begin playing there.
“We try to fulfill all of our contracts,” Wolff said. “Sometimes we wish our players would do the same.”