Importance of Preserving the Cactus League
In 2010, the Cactus League provided more than $350 million in economic impact to the state of Arizona. Almost half of the Cactus League teams have leases that expire in the next 6 years. The City of Mesa is first up to bat with the Chicago Cubs. Next up is Phoenix, which will have to address issues with the Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers. We need to work together to keep the Cactus League viable and strong.
What's Being Done
In June, the City of Mesa unveiled its new proposal to keep the Chicago Cubs Spring Training in Arizona. The plan provides the Chicago Cubs with the financial certainty of a new facility in Mesa.
The proposal includes already-allocated money from AZSTA (the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority), revenue from a proposed increase in Mesa’s bed tax, infrastructure improvements at the new stadium and land currently owned by the city.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed earlier this year requires Mesa to have an agreement in principal completed by July 12th. Under the terms of the MOU, the cost for a new stadium remains capped at $84 million. The Cubs would pick up any cost overruns or additional expenditures.
While the Mesa plan provides the Cubs with financing needed to build a new stadium, Mayor Scott Smith and the City of Mesa remain hopeful the state Legislature and Major League Baseball will come up with a solution to help the Cactus League.
The Mesa proposal includes an increase in the city’s hotel/motel “bed tax.” The City Council is expected to vote next month to put a measure on the November ballot to raise the bed tax to 5% from 3%. This would put Mesa on par with both Tempe and Scottsdale, which recently approved bed tax increases.
In addition to the bed tax revenue, Mesa is already scheduled to receive $8.4 million from AZTSA for spring training facilities. Rather than using the money for improvements at Hohokam Stadium, the funds will be dedicated to the new Cubs facility.
One of the key elements of the plan is more than 100 acres of city-owned property, which would be used for the stadium. Unlike other stadium proposals, including those from Florida, acquiring land would not be an issue. Mesa also will provide needed infrastructure improvements once a stadium location has been selected.
Mesa has identified several sites where the new spring training facility could be located. A final site selection will be determined at a later date.
- The new plan provides the Chicago Cubs with the financial certainty to build their new stadium and Spring Training facility in Mesa.
- No property tax or sales tax increase will be necessary for this project; just the bed tax that is consistent with other Valley city taxes, and which is supported by the Mesa industry leaders.
- The Chicago Cubs will make a significant contribution to the project.
- The threat from Florida is real. If Arizona's efforts fail, the Cubs are free to leave Arizona.
Chicago Cubs Impact
The Cubs are the top Spring Training draw in both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. When the Cubs play on the road, the home team experiences increased attendance. In 2010, the Cubs led the entire Cactus League in average home attendance, attracting 10,892 per game. The Cubs ranked second in total attendance (152,493) in just 14 games but would have led the entire Cactus League for the fifth consecutive year had one of their home games not been rained out. The Cubs have led the Cactus League in attendance in 13 of the past 15 years and played in 15 of the 20 record-setting attendance games. In 2010, the Cubs played in four of the seven record-setting attendance games including March 28 when they drew the most fans to ever watch a Cactus League game (13,629) at Peoria when they played the Seattle Mariners. The Cubs also drew a record a record 13,462 fans to Hohokam Stadium in Mesa on March 27 for a game against the San Diego Padres. In 2009, the Cubs were responsible for 22% of Cactus League attendance.
An economic impact study shows the Chicago Cubs contribute $138 million annually to Arizona. If the Cubs were to leave, an estimated 1,600 jobs would be lost. The Cubs are a valuable asset not just to Mesa, but to the entire Cactus League and Arizona. Read the study at www.CubsWinInAZ.com.
It's the Bottom of the 9th Inning and You Are Up To Bat
We can't do this without Cactus League fans! Here is what you can do to show your support:
- Check out www.CubsWinInAZ.com for all the latest news and information.
- Follow our effort on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
- Live in Mesa? Help spread the word: a small increase in the tourist “bed tax’’ and the OK to provide infrastructure improvements for the stadium site are a must to keep the Cubbies, so vote yes on the ballot in November!
What is the new plan to keep the Cubs in Mesa?
The proposal includes money from AZSTA (the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority), revenue from an increase in Mesa’s bed tax, infrastructure improvements at the new stadium, and land currently owned by the city.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed earlier this year required Mesa to have an agreement in principal completed by July 12th. Under the terms of the MOU, the cost for a new stadium remains capped at $84 million. The Cubs would pick up any cost over runs or additional expenditures.
The Mesa proposal includes an increase in the city’s hotel/motel bed tax. The City Council is expected to vote next month to put a measure on the November ballot to raise the city bed tax from 3% to 5%. This would put Mesa on par with neighboring Tempe and Scottsdale, which recently approved bed tax increases.
In addition to the bed tax revenue, Mesa is scheduled to receive $8.4 million from AZTSA for spring training facilities under its current agreement with the agency. Rather than using the money for Hohokam Stadium, the funds would be allocated to the new Cubs facility.
One of the key elements of the plan is more than 100 acres of city-owned property that could be used for the stadium. Unlike other stadium proposals, including those from Florida, acquiring land would not be an issue.
Also on the November ballot would be an item to allow Mesa to provide needed infrastructure improvements once a stadium location has been selected.
While the plan satisfies terms of the MOU with the Cubs, the City of Mesa remains hopeful that the state Legislature and Major League Baseball continue to work toward a long-term solution to help the Cactus League.
How much will the new Cubs facilities cost?
The total project cost is approximately $119 million. Of that, $84 million will be used for the stadium and practice facilities.
What is the economic impact of the Cubs to Mesa and Arizona?
An economic impact study, conducted by The Maguire Company and Elliot D. Pollack & Company, shows the Chicago Cubs contribute $138 million annually to Arizona. If the Cubs were to leave, an estimated 1,600 jobs would be lost – the impact of fewer people traveling to Arizona for Spring Training, less business for restaurants and bars, more vacant hotel rooms, and so on.
How real is the threat from Naples, Florida?
The threat from Naples is very real. Florida may be on the bench right now, but their leaders are closely following events in Arizona. They are poised and ready to step up to the plate at a moment's notice. A recent editorial in the Naples News said it all: "We're ready to pinch hit." If Arizona doesn't get this done, the Cubs will leave the Cactus League for Florida. And that will have a wide ranging and long term impact on Arizona's economy.
What is the deadline for reaching a final deal?
In January, Mesa signed an agreement with the Chicago Cubs giving the city exclusive negotiating rights as long as the city meets certain milestones in 2010. If Arizona's efforts fail, the Cubs are free to open negotiations with any city, and Florida is waiting for that chance.
There are plenty of assumptions, half-truths and misinformation being circulated by those opposed to the plan. The truth is, this is something we all need to work together on for the future of Spring Training in Arizona. Here is what you can do to support the effort:
- Write the Arizona state legislature. Let them know you support House Bill 2736, the legislation to help preserve the Cactus League. For a list of Arizona legislators and their email addresses, visit http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp. For more information on the legislation, check out the What's It All About section.
- Write a letter to the editor. Let them know why you support the effort to preserve the Cactus League and why it's important to help keep the Cubs in Arizona (check out the Economic & Fiscal Impact section.) You can send letter to the Arizona Republic and to the East Valley Tribune. You can also send a letter to your local community paper.
February 17th, 2010 - The House Committee on Commerce is holding a hearing on the proposed legislation that would preserve the Cactus League and keep the Cubs in Arizona (House Bill 2736).
February 6th, 2010 - Statement by Mayor Smith about recent comments regarding proposed legislation to enhance Cactus League
View Press Release (PDF)
February 5th, 2010 - A new economic impact study, conducted by The Maguire Company and Elliot D. Pollack & Company, reveals the Chicago Cubs contribute $138 million annually to Arizona. The new estimated impact underscores the popularity of the Cubs and the true impact the team has on Arizona and the Cactus League.
View Press Release (PDF)
View Economic Impact Studies
January 27th, 2010 - Play Ball! Chicago Cubs Give Arizona First Opportunity to Remain Spring Training Home
View Press Release (PDF)
Check out the latest videos and happenings in our efforts to keep the Chicago Cubs' Spring Training home in Arizona. We want to keep you updated so you can continue to support our efforts!