Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Stadium proponents set deadline


Proponents of a new baseball stadium want a decision within 30 days about whether Pima County and Tucson will kick in a combined $18 million to try to have three spring training teams here.

The deadline came from Dan Schneider, head of the Southern Arizona Sports Development Corp., which has been negotiating with baseball team owners.

Three weeks ago, the county Board of Supervisors renewed its pledge to help build a new baseball stadium. But the supervisors haven’t voted on how much to shell out for the stadium. And the City Council has postponed the entire issue until next month.

Responding to the deadline threat, Democratic Supervisor Dan Eckstrom told the group’s leaders yesterday that he will make a decision much sooner if he doesn’t get basic facts about the proposal.

“If I don’t have the information by December 27, you can shop somewhere else,’ he warned SASDC officials.

Eckstrom said the packet that the sports group presented to the city never reached him. Schneider was puzzled why the information, provided to the city and county, didn’t reach the supervisor, but offered to haul in the group’s file cabinets for him.

But that offer didn’t appease Eckstrom, who curtly told Schneider to keep the file cabinets and his “cavalier attitude.’

Democratic Supervisor Raul Grijalva also chimed in with his displeasure at being left in the cold about negotiations.

“Up until now, we’ve either been treated with benign neglect or plain ignored,’ Grijalva said.

With that, Schneider offered to let any of the supervisors meet directly with the Colorado Rockies or the Arizona Diamondbacks, an expansion league team.

Tucson is trying to lure a third team, possibly the Chicago White Sox, the Houston Astros or the Kansas City Royals, to practice against the Rockies, who play at Hi Corbett Field, and the Diamondbacks, who will train here starting in 1998. The leading site for the new stadium is near the intersection of Interstates 10 and 19.

All of the teams are being asked to sign a 15-year contract to keep spring training programs in Tucson. If a team left, it would have to replace itself with a major league team, said Mike Feder, general manager of the Tucson Toros.

The deal calls for the county to pay $9 million to protect the banks of the Santa Cruz River if the interstate site is selected. Tucson, in turn, would have to renovate Hi Corbett Field for the Rockies, assume the field’s debt, move current park facilities and donate land for the new stadium. All that would cost at least $9 million.

County Administrator Charles Huckelberry figures the county could raise $1.4 million yearly to pay down the stadium’s debt by boosting the car rental tax by $1.

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