Mesa voters will decided tomorrow whether to permit the city to spend $84 million to construct a new stadium and practice facilities to keep the Chicago Cubs springing in Arizona. While the prospect of moving to Florida has long been considered a dead duck, if voters poo-poo the plans, the Cubs may have to reconsider.
Proposition 420 would authorize the city to spend $84 million for a stadium and practice facilities on what is now Riverview Golf Course. The city has set a $15 million limit on infrastructure costs, although engineers estimate the actual spending would be far less than that.
The election is the climax of a nearly two-year effort by the city to keep the Cactus League’s most iconic team from accepting an offer for a free stadium, practice areas and land for business opportunities in Naples, Fla.
Two local groups have mounted organized opposition to the proposal, saying that it’s too expensive and that public money shouldn’t be used for such purposes.
One group is centered in northeast Mesa, which the Cubs had considered for a time as a prospective site for their complex but has been off the table for several months. The other is Valley Business Owners (and Concerned Citizens) Inc., which has battled Mesa over the years on tax and spending issues.
Mesa would use proceeds from selling its land in Pinal County to cover the cost of bonds it would issue for stadium construction, if voters say yes.
The Cubs plan to build a privately financed “Wrigleyville” commercial and entertainment district next to their complex. One likely component: A baseball museum based on the Mesa Historical Museum’s rapidly expanding Play Ball! exhibit. azcentral.com.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and legend Ernie Banks have each spent time in Mesa over the last few weeks campaigning on behalf of Proposition 420 (strangely no Cubs catchers have been campaigning). Mayor Scott smith is optimistic that the measure will pass.