You may recall that, last year, the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona State baseball program came forward with this awesome, feel-good plan to share the facilities being built in Mesa, which will be the Cubs’ new Spring Training home in 2014. The city of Mesa could get some extra revenue, the Cubs could get a little extra revenue/save some operational costs, and Arizona State could get state of the art facilities in which to play and train.

Yeah, none of that is going to happen. ASU offered an official statement, formally ending the plan. In relevant part:

After many months of negotiation, ASU regrets that the effort to have the ASU baseball team play in the new Cubs stadium in Mesa has failed. The university approached the talks enthusiastically and readily accepted the deal as originally outlined. But as the new Cubs management changed the original deal points and added new issues to the negotiation, the new terms became far too costly to the university, imposed too many restrictions on ASU’s use of the facility and exposed the university to too great a level of financial liability for the entire complex.

ASU also indicated that the arrangement was now “impossible” because “the changes the Cubs demanded shows that they do not value the partnership with ASU.”

The relationship started to break down over the Summer, when the Cubs and Sun Devils could not agree on how, exactly, the facilities would be shared (there are, after all, a great many overlaps – not only during Spring Training, but throughout the year (recall, the Cubs’ facilities in Mesa aren’t just for Spring Training, it is also a year-round training facility for, among other things, Rookie League and instructional ball)). The Arizona State President called the Cubs “not people of their word,” and talks decelerated from there.

Mesa tried to intervene and resolve the issues as recently as early October, but it was not to be.

Ultimately, it’s unfortunate that things couldn’t be worked out, because it would have been a cool thing. But if it couldn’t be a true win-win for the Cubs – and all indications are that, if ASU had gotten its way, the Cubs would not have had the full enjoyment of the facilities that, let’s not forget, are being built for them, not ASU – moving on is the right thing to do.

It’s interesting that ASU suggests the problems came after the new management – i.e., Theo Epstein and Co. – took over. It’s fair to wonder if the plan was presented in a certain way by Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney in August/September/Early-October 2011, which is when ASU approved the plan, but was changed on the Cubs’ side once Theo took over and saw how the facilities were going to be used by ASU. It’s conceivable that the Cubs really did pull a late audible on ASU, but that it was the right thing to do: Theo could have come in and said, “whoa, wait a minute. You mean I’m not going to be able to use these facilities whenever I want for our prospects/rehabbing players/etc.? This is a bum deal, and we need to massage this a bit.”

I won’t pretend to know the particularities of the agreement between ASU and the Cubs, but I do know that it was pretty formalized. ASU’s statement included legal buzz phrases like “negotiated the original agreement in good faith,” “changed the original deal points,” and “added new issues,” which all do seem to point in a legal-recourse kind of direction. ASU is probably just trying to publicly preserve its options, but here’s hoping we’re not looking a “breach” and “lawsuit” situation.

It’s also conceivable that this is all just posturing by ASU, and they’d still like to work something out with the Cubs. I have no reason to believe that’s the case, though, so I’ll just take ASU at its word.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    The Cubs should remain priority # 1 for the new stadium. Tell ASU to build their own stadium on their own campus like most other programs do. If the Cubs e are going to have the best facilities in order to attract and retain top notch talent they don’t need to sublet the facility so save a few bucks. The Cubs have the leverage here….and ASU wants to try to save face by crying foul. The overlapping of the schedules puts both programs at a disadvantage and at the end of the day; the Golden Rule applies…..the one with the Gold…RULES. Cubs 1. ASU 0.

    Sorry Sundevils….the Cubs are sitting at the head of the Big Boys table in this deal.

    • Pat

      “Tell ASU to build their own stadium on their own campus like most other programs do.”

      That would carry a lot more weight if the Cubs were actually paying for their own stadium

  • Believe in 2015

    ASU has to understand that it was originally for the “CUBS” to use. ASU should have been grateful for the opportunity and not bash the Cubs front office

  • DarthHater

    Sounds like Kenney initially negotiated a deal that wasn’t really good for the Cubs and Theo “overruled” him when he arrived. The fact that that could happen bodes well for the Cubs organization going forward.

    As for ASU, they should change their acronym to U-Mad? 😉

  • Dr. Percival Cox

    Clearly Theo just wants to tank the Cubs relationship with every college in the country and doesn’t care about losing so long as he can do his fantasy rebuild project. (/s)

    • Cubbie Blues


    • Richard Nose


  • JulioZuleta

    Good, I don’t want Cubs players sitting on the same toilets as ASU athletes anyways…You never know how things can spread.

    • Richard Nose

      My main concern as well! Damn herp.

  • RoughRiider

    With all the rumblings and the appearance of impropriety in the ASU baseball program over the last few years and the fact that they were banned from the post season in 2011, it’s amazing to me that they would make remarks about another organization. You would think they would be trying to keep a low profile.

  • Believe in 2015

    Cubs & Red Sox among teams in on Haren talks as option deadline approaches

  • Frank

    I retired and moved to Arizona 13 years ago and no offense to the people here, but this place is like being on another planet. I can’t believe this state is even part of planet Earth. ASU was probably concerned about too many Dominicans and South Americans being at the facility year round.

  • FFP

    Sounds like the Cubs wanted out. Other teams make relationships work with the local high school(s) instead. The pro organization retains the say-sos and the financials, but can write off the donation to the local, public sports team.

    Seeing this in place elsewhere, it looks genuinely sweet to a fan. The local kids have the (awesome) field from hour x to hour y. Local kids are asked not to approach pros, unless the pro initiates. Often a star is seen walking up to a kid and talking fundamentals, even doing a few light reps.

    But, there is no mistaking who owns the facility. And at some point, if the pro team wants to relocate again, they can donate the whole thing to the high school or whomever

    • Pat

      Of course the Cubs wanted out. They added ASU to help swing votes for the referrendum, but I doubt they ever actually intended to make good on the promises. Very similar to when they promised adding parking as part of the triangle building, and then after they got what they wanted (bleacher expansion and additional night games), decided that even though the neighborhood said they wanted parking, what they really wanted was more retail space for the Cubs to make money. Of course, they still haven’t even finished planning the building.

      This is why the city/state should stay far away from helping with the renovations. The ownership (previous and current) simply does not negotiate in good faith.

      • Frank

        But if nothing had been signed, then in reality, there were no promises to keep. The parties to a negotiation say a lot of things that never make it to the final deal. Of course, if there was an agreement, formal or informal but in writing, that’s another story.

  • Sully

    I say “big deal”. The new facility is for the Cubs first and foremost.

  • Tommy

    Sounds like ASU (the people giving the quotes) has a victim mentality and needs to grow up. Deals don’t always work out, and if they had a signed agreement, it would have been a non-issue. Obviously the details had not been worked out yet.

    • Pat

      Just want to make sure I have this straight. The Cubs say they will do something and then change the terms and that’s okay. Ryan Demster says he will do something and then changes the terms and he’s a douchebag. Is that right? Because the only difference I see between the two situations is that the Cubs used their untruth to steal 90 million dollars from the State of Arizona.

      • Alex

        Yup.. You definitely don’t have it straight. This is nothing like the Dempster situation.

        Considering that the parameters to the agreement were already set. Both sides were negotiating details to finalize the deal. It wasn’t as if the Cubs wanted a new deal that benefits the organization greatly as ASU claims.

        Some of the issues on the table were the amount of shared revenue the Cubs would receive from ASU on concessions. ASU wouldn’t have to pay one cent of shared revenue until they reach $1 Million in concessions. There were also some insurance indemnifications that need to be resolved.

        ASU’s claim in their press release that it “imposed too many restrictions on ASU’s use of the facility” is misguided. On top of scheduling conflicts, ASU wanted to book non-baseball events as well. Considering they are sharing a rent free facility for them, that is a pretty sweetheart deal for the university.

        Even Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said that it was an “incredibly great financial deal for ASU.” http://www.eastvalleytribune.c…..f887a.html

        I’m not saying the Cubs are without fault here, but this is a facility built for the organization. I have no doubt that the Cubs approached ASU and offered a great win/win proposal to share the facility. But ASU’s needs conflict with the Cubs organizational needs. The Cubs can’t compromise the objective of the facility of rehabbing players and developing prospects in order to satisfy ASU’s liberal use the facility rent free. Phoenix Municipal Stadium seems like a great option for ASU. I think it would be better if they do move in that direction.

        • Alex

          Sorry. I didn’t link to the article above. Here is the link.

          • Pat

            Once they had the vote, the Cubs changed the terms of the deal. Even with all the spin by Green in that artice he doesn’t deny it. What he does is try to justify it as still a good deal for ASU despite the terms being changed.

            • Alex

              Bottom line. ASU spins it their way, Cubs spin it theirs.

              No free rent for ASU because THEY got greedy and it blew up in their faces and now they are trying to save face.

              Like I said earlier, even the mayor of Mesa said it was a incredibly great financial deal for ASU.

  • AZCubsFan

    The media here, in Arizona, is siding mostly with the Cubs on this.

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