Mesa announces funding plans for Cubs new spring training facility

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by Natalie Rivers

azfamily.com

Posted on June 3, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 3 at 8:32 PM

MESA - Mesa city officials announced at a press conference Thursday an initiative to provide financial certainty for the construction of a new Chicago Cubs spring training facility.

The initiative will use funds and assets from the city's enterprise fund. The enterprise fund provides enough money so there will be no increase in property taxes, no increases in sales taxes and no impact to the city's general fund.

There has been uncertainty over the project since the legislature adjourned in April without coming to a solution to the funding issue. Today's announcement that the city will be able to meet the commitment given to the Cubs for a new stadium removes that uncertainty.

"The economic activity and jobs that are created by spring training are simply too important to leave to chance,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “By stepping up to the plate at this time, the City of Mesa is reaffirming its commitment to the Cactus League, the Chicago Cubs Spring Training and all that those mean to this City and its residents."

Mesa has drawn from the enterprise fund in the past for projects related to spring training facilities.

Money for the enterprise fund comes from activities, waste management, water resources, utilities and existing spring training operations.

The city also plans to sell farmland in Pinal County over the next 25 years, which will go to the stadium build.

An increased hotel bed tax proposed for the November ballot could also provide additional funding to the project.

“Our members recognize the importance of having Cubs Spring Training in Mesa,” CVB President and CEO Robert Brinton said. “A slight increase in the bed tax is a small price to pay for keeping this vital economic resource in our community.”

Mesa Mayor Smith encouraged that the legislature remain diligent in efforts to keep the Cactus League in the state of Arizona.

“Today’s commitment by the City of Mesa gets us over a hump, but it does not solve the Cactus League problem. We still need state lawmakers and Major League Baseball to agree on a plan to help preserve the Cactus League,” Smith said. “The City of Mesa will continue to work with all parties to develop and implement a plan that will benefit all Cactus League teams and cities. Mesa is acting now because with the clock ticking toward a July deadline, we needed to move quickly to guarantee the Cubs do not leave Arizona.” 

The next step in the process is finding a location for the new facility and a vote by Mesa residents in November. The vote is required by the city's charter on sports and entertainment projects over $1.5 million.          

For updates on Arizona’s efforts to keep the Cubs, you can visit www.CubsWinInAZ.com.

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