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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rogue Columnist: Phoenix loses spring training

The Oakland As have accelerated negotiations begun in November with Mesa to move spring training from Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Hohokam Stadium in 2015. The Chicago Cubs, the biggest draw in the Cactus League, are leaving Hohokam for the new Riverview development at Dobson and the Loop 202 in 2014. New Mayor Greg Stanton dryly told Channel 12’s Brahm Resnik that he had “inherited” the situation — (and these are my words) one of many messes left behind by the lost weekend that was Phil Gordon’s second term. He promised to do “anything reasonable” to keep the As, but “we have to be fiscally responsible.” Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers’ contract at the stadium in Maryvale expires this year and it’s unclear if they will renew.

Spring training in Arizona was once a sweet, simple thing. After World War II, the then New York Giants started play at the old Municipal Stadium, while the Cleveland Indians built Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. In 1951, the Cubs came to the old Rendezvous Park Stadium in Mesa. The teams traveled by train and their arrival at Union Station was always a big event. For years, the Cactus League had eight teams (although they came and went). When I was a child, tickets were cheap, even star players were close and the atmosphere was easy-going and small town. This persists today at some spring training facilities, but it’s become big business, and like much else in our society, cities are played off against each other to surrender the most tax dollars to further enrich the already rich.

The question is whether Phoenix should do much, if anything, to keep spring training in the city?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

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   1. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4038742)
I completely understand why spring training in Arizona is the way it is now. But as a fan, it sure was more fun even just a few years ago, in the smaller-town, lower-key environment of Tucson, rather than the L.A.-of-the-desert environment of the Phoenix metropolis.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4038769)
I've only been to that desert hellhole once (and I've never been to ST, damn you contentious labor-management relations of the 1970s) so my knowledge of the city is limited, but won't Phoenix still enjoy a lot of the benefits of Spring Training even if no one calls the city proper home?

   3. TerpNats Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4038778)
The city should have made sure the Diamondbacks trained there as a condition of building the ballpark.
   4. Mark S. is bored Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4038786)
I've only been to that desert hellhole once (and I've never been to ST, damn you contentious labor-management relations of the 1970s) so my knowledge of the city is limited, but won't Phoenix still enjoy a lot of the benefits of Spring Training even if no one calls the city proper home?


Possibly. If all the teams are outside the city of Phoenix, then there is a lot of tax revenue (hotel, food, etc) that won't be going into their coffers from people staying or eating near the stadium. But the city is no longer responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the stadiums. So they make less money and spend less as well.
   5. DL from MN Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4038816)
Phoenix has the major league team, they shouldn't concern themselves with also keeping up what is essentially a minor league ballpark. If spring training is nearby then they'll still see a great deal of the benefit.
   6. SOLockwood Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4038838)
Are the various suburban training sites spread out so that Phoenix still roughly the center of them? Or are they concentrated in one particular direction from the central city?
   7. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4038846)
It's nice that the uber-rich Cubs got millions in subsidies from Mesa to build a park that now cost Phoenix the As. Though since Phil Gordon started as a prominent opponent of cities using subsidies to attract business from neighboring cities, then flip-flopped to build a massive taxpayer subsidized boondoggle in City North for a developer friend, Phoenix got what they deserved.

The A's facility was pretty mediocre and in a very industrial location that wasn't close to anything other than the Airport and Zoo. But it was a great location since it was easy to reach from much of the east valley, and the As never sold out so I could take an afternoon off any time I wanted and be guaranteed to see a game. Spring Training in general is not much of a boost to the local economy. It's one month where hotel and car rental rates are a bit higher than what they would be otherwise, but most of the profits leave town with the teams. If there were no spring training those hotels would still be full of golfers, sunbathers, and Scottsdale night life partiers.

Tucson is a beautiful place to visit and vacation and live. It was a lousy spot for spring training because it's 2 hours away from the rest of the teams, down a crappy freeway. Moving all the teams to the PHX area is much better for the fans, now you can see a different team in a different venue every day and never drive more than 40 minutes no matter where you stay in the valley.


And this hell-hole is 65 degrees today. Brrrr, chilly!
   8. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4038851)
Are the various suburban training sites spread out so that Phoenix still roughly the center of them? Or are they concentrated in one particular direction from the central city?


They roughly circle the city. There are two fairly close east of Phoenix, in Scottsdale, the Rockies/Diamondbacks (just across the 101 from Casino AZ!), Giants in downtown Scottsdale, and the Cubs/As fairly close in SE Valley. Mariners/Padres/Brewers/Dodgers are in the NW valley, Angels very close in SW valley.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4038855)
They roughly circle the city. There are two fairly close east of Phoenix, in Scottsdale, the Rockies/Diamondbacks (just across the 101 from Casino AZ!), Giants in downtown Scottsdale, and the Cubs/As fairly close in SE Valley. Mariners/Padres/Brewers/Dodgers are in the NW valley, Angels very close in SW valley.


So, as I wondered in my post with the gratuitious insult of your fine city, the absence of a team playing within the city won't necessarily cost Phoenix all of that hotel/tourist income that accompanies ST? If the teams are ringing the city, then ST visitors should still be staying in Phoenix in fairly healthy numbers. Sounds like a much better deal than spending millions to build a park.

And also, shouldn't we expect it to be warm in hellholes? (-:


   10. Mark S. is bored Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4038859)
So, as I wondered in my post with the gratuitious insult of your fine city, the absence of a team playing within the city won't necessarily cost Phoenix all of that hotel/tourist income that accompanies ST? If the teams are ringing the city, then ST visitors should still be staying in Phoenix in fairly healthy numbers. Sounds like a much better deal than spending millions to build a park.


Most (if not all) of the stadiums have hotels near them. So Phoenix will have fewer hotel/dining visitors without a Spring Training team. But it won't die completely.
   11. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4038862)
So, as I wondered in my post with the gratuitious insult of your fine city, the absence of a team playing within the city won't necessarily cost Phoenix all of that hotel/tourist income that accompanies ST? If the teams are ringing the city, then ST visitors should still be staying in Phoenix in large numbers. Sounds like a much better deal than spending millions to build a park.

No, but not for the reason you might think. It won't cost Phoenix not because people will still stay in Phoenix to visit parks outside, but rather because they probably weren't staying in Phoenix even when the teams were playing there.

Phoenix Muni is essentially in Tempe to begin with and if you wanted to stay near that stadium, your hotel would probably be in Tempe or in South Scottsdale. Any sight seeing or restaurant touring you'd do would be as likely to happen in Tempe as in Phoenix and more likely to happen in Scottsdale. The city loses little with this move, but only because they were gaining so little to begin with.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4038870)
The city loses little with this move, but only because they were gaining so little to begin with.

Yes, as has been pointed out, Phoenix is a very large city, and the economic impact on it from all of ST, let alone a single team, is small.

For the various suburbs ringing Phoenix that so furiously compete with one another for the teams, that isn't necessarily the case.
   13. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: January 17, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4039056)
I just spent a week in Phx for the holidays. Not a bad place if you have money I guess. Not my cup of tea culturally. Mountains and desert are stunning though. I hiked Camelback and in the Sonoran National Monument.

The city seems big enough and economically diverse enough that the loss of some ST dollars seems like a spoonfull out of a dump truck. Maybe some hotels and restaurants suffer slightly.
   14. Snowboy Posted: January 18, 2012 at 04:21 AM (#4039153)
I don't know the ins&outs; of recent (any?) negotiations, but I'm surprised that if Oakland is finally moving from Municipal Stadium that they are not moving to a new facility. Instead they are moving into a place that the Cubs find unsuitable and are vacating. They must be saving significant money by moving to Mesa, it isn't that much of an improvement in facilities.

(I assume that in the background, Oakland and Milwaukee are working together to try and secure a new joint spring facility. If not, they should be: the new complexes are great for centralizing all the players and management.)
   15. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 18, 2012 at 08:11 AM (#4039184)
I completely understand why spring training in Arizona is the way it is now. But as a fan, it sure was more fun even just a few years ago, in the smaller-town, lower-key environment of Tucson, rather than the L.A.-of-the-desert environment of the Phoenix metropolis.


Loved it when the Padres were in Yuma and the Angels in Palm Springs.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: January 18, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4039200)

I was at Super Bowl week in Phoenix in 2008.
Even for an event like that, the sidewalks folded up by 7 pm, and in came the tumbleweeds. The nearest thing to a pulse was in Scottsdale.

   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 18, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4039204)
To h*ll with Phoenix

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