Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 23, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

City of Mesa Prop 420: Spring Training Stadium


  • Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts discusses Prop 420, a measure that asks city voters to approve public expenditures for a Cactus League Spring Training stadium and related facilities.
Guests:
  • Tom Ricketts - Chairman, Chicago Cubs
Category: Vote 2010

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Proposition 420 in Mesa would allow the city to move ahead with plans to build a new spring training facility for the Chicago cubs at riverview park near the 202 and 101 freeways. Voters will get to decide the measure in November. I recently talked with Chicago cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about the team's plans to stay in Mesa. Thanks for joining us.

Tom Ricketts:
Thanks, Ted, great to be here.

Ted Simons:
Do the Cubs want to stay in the valley and if so, why?

Tom Ricketts:
The answer is absolutely yes. We want to stay in Mesa. The cubs have a 50-year history in Mesa. We have a lot of fans that are used -- very much love coming down here for spring training and we have a lot of fans that have moved here over the years that are loyal attendees of spring training.

Ted Simons:
I things mentioned do you want to stay in the valley, or is it just Mesa or the metropolitan area that attracts you?

Tom Ricketts:
I'm exclusively focused on Mesa right now. We're working closely with the mayor and city council to try and get our enough facility put together.

Ted Simons:
The facility would be practice fields, a stadium and Wrigley field west. What's that?

Tom Ricketts:
Our concept, when you go to spring training, you drive up in your car and park and go to the stadium and go out and go to your car and drive away. Wrigley starts when you get to the neighborhood and we with an we want to create that vibe. We talk about the concept of Wrigley field west. But it's a more three dimensional day. Like things for the family. Batting cages or museum or historical center 0 on cubs or baseball history and restaurants and bars and things people can do around the game and not only during spring training but year round.

Ted Simnons:
Is that a privately financed deal. The Wrigley field west aspect of the deal.

Tom Ricketts:
What we're talking about in proposition 420, the ballot initiative on the Mesa ballots in November is a public-private partnership. Where the city will be renting us the land where the stadium S. The city will have use of the stadium during the non-spring training part of the year and then a few other fields during the non-spring training part and we put our money in N to developing the commercial side.

Ted Simons:
As far as the riverview park area, this whole waveyard has been going you up and down. And now there's talk of perhaps you guys sharing that area of that land with some kind of waveyard concept. What are your thoughts?

Tom Ricketts:
I really haven't talked to the guys about that. We're focused on making sure we can get the facilities we need built.

Ted Simons:
Is that a deal-breaking kind of thing or something you would consider or work around?

Tom Ricketts:
We'd have to see what this looks like. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Ted Simons:
Are you concerned about enough land on that particular site? Not only for your own facility and Wrigley field west but something else that might go in there.

Tom Ricketts:
I think there's enough land do what we want to accomplish and I'm sure we'll able to put it to good use. Why that area and not northeast Mesa?

Tom Ricketts:
I think the location works well for what we're trying to accomplish. If we're trying to create a place where more people come to a spring training game and spend more and stay longer and have a better day, I mean, it's a good location and also a quasi commercial area already and people can come in and go to other stores and theaters right in that area and I think it fits a lot better than going some place that's wholly residential or some place like downtown.

Ted Simons:
Obviously prop 420 is there to get this deal in place and move forward with the cubs and Mesa. For those who say, we -- the city should not be paying anything for a private company or a baseball team or a sports team in general, how do you respond to that?

Tom Ricketts:
I this I what every voter in Mesa should know, there's no new taxes associated with this development. There's no sales tax or property tax. It's going -- that's going on to the citizens of Mesa. And what they're going to get in return is not only you keep all the jobs that we currently have with the spring training facility we have, we're going to create a lot more new jobs as we go out and build this new facility. So for really no real direct cost we can generate another economic engine for Mesa.

Ted Simons:
So do we know what the engine drives? How much in the way of --

Tom Ricketts:
There's studies that have been done, the cubs generate about $138 million of revenue for -- for the area. I'm not sure exactly how much that stays in Mesa or leaves Mesa. But it's substantial. And the point is that if we can get the proposition passed and maintain all of that economic -- all of that revenue, the economic value and enhance it as we're willing to put in our own money to grow what spring training means for the cubs.

Ted Simons:
Are you concerned in the riverview area you have the riverview mall and the Tempe mall -- the marketplace, it's called. Are you concerned about a lot of retail activity and competition?

Tom Ricketts:
Obviously, we haven't studied to the extent we know exactly what will go in or wouldn't go in. What we know is we get a couple of hundred thousand people coming in and that's a good start and if we can get them coming back on non-game days to take part of other events and activities we at least have a base.

Ted Simons:
Prop 420, what will Mesa voters be voting on? We're not sure what's going in there. The whole waveyard thing is out there and we don't know what that situation -- what are they voting on?

Tom Ricketts:
By voting yes, you're giving the mayor and city council the authority to go forward and close the deal with us.

Ted Simons:
Just with you, nothing else, and that's --

Tom Ricketts:
To the extent there's -- the waveyard stuff, I don't know anything about that, but it's directly between us and the city.

Ted Simons:
And I have to ask this. But is there a plan B? What happens if 420 fails?

Tom Ricketts:
We're just really focused on plan A. There's no plan B. We've been in Mesa for a long time. We very much want to stay. We appreciate the relationship we have with the community and how hard they've worked to get us a new facility we need and that's all we're focused on right now getting 420 passed.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.


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