Monday, June 7, 2010

The Price of Playing Ball

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 8:18 PM

The Arizona Republic lets us know that Glendale might be having trouble paying for that baseball palace they built for the White Sox when they stole them from Pima County:

The success in growing the Cactus League is indisputable. But when the economy cratered, tax revenues fell, crippling the long-term outlook for crucial funding for Cactus League cities from the Valley-based Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority. That agency is charged with managing and distributing funds collected from Maricopa County hotel and rental-car taxes earmarked for spring training.

Glendale and Goodyear may get no more than just over half the money they expected to help them pay off bonds issued to build their ballparks. The cash the sports authority promised for renovations of other ballparks could fall short, given that teams are demanding more amenities and new facilities. Mesa, which is fending off a bid from Naples, Fla., to lure away the Cactus League's marquee attraction, the Chicago Cubs, proposes to sell off land it owns in Pinal County to cover costs for a new ballpark to keep the team.

Meanwhile, protesters are calling for Cactus League teams to leave Arizona because of the state's new immigration law.

More details:

Glendale spent $158 million to open a ballpark complex in 2009 for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The city expected to receive $142 million from the sports authority. The latest forecast puts the figure at $79 million, and the money won't start flowing until 2021, four years later than expected.

This is why Pima County never had a chance to keep baseball: Because Maricopa County communities like Glendale thought they could spend all the money in the world on stadiums. That was never going to happen here. Now Glendale taxpayers will be on the hook for the costs, but it's too late to do anything about it. And in 15 years, the White Sox will probably move to Florida when someone builds them a nicer stadium there.

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