Friday, March 19, 2010

Arizona Legislature passes bill to help pay for stadium that the White Sox abandoned

The first team to flip up their middle finger at the proposed "Cubs Tax" (our friends, the White Sox) received a little "F-You" from the Arizona State legislature yesterday when they passed a bill to help finance the new Cubs spring training facility.

Doing exactly the opposite of the what blabber mouth, Crane Kenney, said last week, the legislature passed a bill that didn't eliminate the Cubs tax, but, in fact, expanded it quite bit while eliminating the $1 surcharge on rental cars.

So, where is the slap in the White Sox faces on this?  Well, two years ago, the White Sox moved their spring training from Tucson to Glendale.  Tucson built a stadium for the White Sox (and Diamondbacks) in 1998, prompting them to move from Sarasota, Florida to the Cactus League.  Many consider the ballpark to be one of the gems of the Cactus League.  But, the Sox abandoned Tucson for a new facility which they now share with the Dodgers.  The Diamondbacks (who also opposed the Cubs tax) will be moving from Tucson next year for Scottsdale. 

Well, what has happened is that Tucson is now left with a $22 million bill to pay off the stadium...a stadium that, as of April, has no tenants.  The minor league team that used the facility moved to Reno two years ago. 

So now we get back to the Cubs Tax.  The legislature passed a bill yesterday that expanded the original $1 surcharge on Cactus League games, that would have help raise over $80 million for facilities in the Cactus League over a span of 25 years.  The bill that passed yesterday increases the proposed tax on Cactus League tickets to a 10% rate.  This, according to John McComish (the legislator sponsoring the bill), this will raise $185 million over the next 30 years.

Why the extra money?  To help pay for things like the $22 million still owed on Tucson's Electric Park which the White Sox and Diamondbacks have abandoned. 

From the Arizona Republic...we have this quote from Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry:
"We're just delighted, because in good faith we entered into 15-year contracts with the Diamondbacks and White Sox, and the city with the Rockies," Huckelberry said. "We feel a little used in the process."
(side note...what an awesome name...Chuck Huckelberry!!!  Wow!  LOL!)

Leave it to the Cubs to have to push forward legislation that not only would benefit them, but to help clean up the mess that these other teams have left behind.  

I would assume that most of the other Cactus League teams will fall in line to support whatever the eventual look of this bill is because, as it currently is set out, many of these teams would benefit from the extra money the bill would generate.  

The process in not over yet...but it seems to be gaining steam.  And for any of you in Naples, it's over.  It ain't happening, folks.