A's close to new spring training deal

Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM
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MESA, Ariz., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- After failing in a bid to keep the Chicago Cubs, Mesa, Ariz., city officials have cleared a hurdle to host the Oakland Athletics' spring training facility.

The A's and Mesa officials have reached a handshake deal to relocate the team's spring training facility at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, provided millions in renovations can be financed.

An initial request by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and A's owner Lew Wolff to a municipal authority controlling infrastructure funds for Cactus League facilities was approved. Smith and Wolff requested $8 million from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, a Glendale, Ariz., municipal entity originally created to help finance the construction of a new stadium for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Part of the authority's responsibility, though, is collecting and disbursing hotel and car rental taxes generated each year by Major League Baseball spring training.

Mesa had played host to the Cubs but a deal to expand Hohokam Stadium fell through. The Cubs, with a typically larger fan base, sought to expand the complex to accommodate more people. The smaller market Athletics actually want to downsize the stadium and create a more intimate fan experience, team officials told The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic.

The city has agreed to put up $15 million in costs to renovate Hohokam Stadium. The $8 million from the tourist authority, which will be put to the body's full vote later this month, would offset that amount. The A's said they will split any costs above $15 million and pay outright for anything over the project's estimated $20 million price tag.

A 20-year lease deal will go before the Mesa City Council this month.

Oakland's present spring training facility is located in Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

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