After an offseason of back and forth, the Chicago Cubs decided two weeks ago to stay in Mesa, Arizona for Spring Training for the foreseeable future. As part of that decision, Mesa committed to provide new and improved facilities for the team, and a sweet new ballpark. As it turns out, the city and state have planned to help finance the project through a surtax on Cactus League tickets.
Unsurprisingly, some teams aren’t all that into the plan.
The Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks oppose a plan to have the entire Cactus League bankroll the $84 million stadium being built in Mesa for the Chicago Cubs.
Arizona lawmakers are crafting plans that could impose new ticket charges on all Cactus League games and raise rental car taxes Valleywide to help pay for the Cubs’ new spring training complex.
Cactus League President Robert Brinton said ticket surcharges previously have been used by specific cities to fund baseball stadiums within their jurisdictions, but this is the first time a leaguewide fee could be imposed for one project. In a nutshell, the D-backs, Sox and spring training fans Valleywide would help foot the bill for Mesa to build a 15,000-seat stadium for the Cubs.
“We’re opposed,” said White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Phoenix Business Journal.
On a surface level, you can understand where the White Sox and Dbacks (among others, probably) are coming from. Higher ticket prices means potentially reduced attendance, and less revenue. But at the same time, let’s not kid ourselves: the Chicago Cubs are the biggest draw in the Cactus League. That’s not me being a homer, that’s just a fact. The League is better for everyone involved with the Cubs in it, and if this is what it takes to keep the Cubs, then so be it.
The Chicago Cubs’ official response, predictably and correctly, has been: take it up with Mesa and Arizona. They have to find a way to pay for this stuff, and it’s up to them to figure out how to deal with it. They could try to pawn the whole bill off on Cubs’ fans heading to Mesa, but again, that ignores the fact that the team provides benefits to the whole league. Perhaps a disproportionate surtax, weighted onto the Cubs’ home tickets, would be appropriate.