Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox, recently voiced his opposition to a decision being made by the state legislature in Arizona to help fund the Chicago Cubs’ new facilities in Mesa via a ticket surcharge on all Cactus League games. Reinsdorf, of course, is not alone, but he has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the plan.
And it’s made him the target of some pretty serious barbs by, among others, the Mayor of Mesa.
With the authority’s initial funds now tapped, Mesa and the Cactus League say they need the legislation to keep the Cubs from bolting to Florida. The authority’s $59 million would cover 70 percent of the public cost for the new facilities, which has been capped at $84 million. Mesa would contribute the remaining $25 million, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said.
Investment by private parties, including the Cubs, would push the total cost of the baseball complex to about $119 million.
For several months, Mesa has said that keeping the Cubs is essential to the overall health of the Cactus League. On Friday, the city released a new report by economists Alan Maguire and Elliot Pollack, who estimated that if the Cubs were to leave Arizona and be replaced by an “average” Major League Baseball team, the state would lose $138 million a year in economic activity, nearly 1,600 jobs and almost $51 million in wages.
Passing McComish’s bill is one of several milestones that must be reached under an agreement signed last week by Mesa and the Cubs.
Smith defended the Cubs legislation in a news briefing Friday after Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox, expressed opposition to the plan.
“We’re not affecting the current revenue streams” for other Cactus League teams, Smith said. He leveled a broadside at Reinsdorf, whose team practiced for years in Tucson Electric Park before leaving last year to join the Los Angeles Dodgers in a new sports authority-funded complex in the Valley.
“Is this the same Jerry Reinsdorf that skipped out on Pima County taxpayers who had spent tens of millions of dollars to provide him with a taxpayer-funded stadium, to come to Glendale, where Maricopa County taxpayers provided him a Taj Mahal spring-training facility?” Smith said.
He said Reinsdorf’s White Sox enjoy a publicly funded stadium in Chicago and that Reinsdorf last year looked into buying the Phoenix Coyotes, who play in Glendale’s publicly funded hockey arena. “The irony is delicious,” Smith said. The Arizona Republic.
Oh snap. I wonder if the irony tastes like chorizo.
The bill making all this happen is expected to be introduced today, and this is almost certainly not the last we’ve heard of the issue.