According to reports by both the Chicago Tribune and ESPN, the Cubs and the city of Mesa are close to a final agreement on a new Arizona spring-training home for the next 25 years that would include a new stadium, for which the Cubs would have naming rights.
The city released a lengthy proposal to the media in Arizona today and the city council is expected to approve its end of the deal Monday, with the Cubs' board of directors then reviewing it. That approval is expected to be a formality, as reported last weekend in the Tribune.
“The Cubs are interested in reading through Mesa’s proposal and having our board take it under review. The timetable for a decision remains the same,” said Cubs spokesman Peter Chase.
A local group of businessmen have been trying to lure the Cubs to Collier County for spring training. The Cubs can get out of their present lease after the 2011 season.
ESPN's Bruce Levine is reporting the Cubs first choice is Mesa, according to a league source. ESPN is reporting that the new stadium in Mesa will most likely will be seven to eight miles east of the present site at Ho Ho Kam Park.
However, the city of Mesa has not heard anything from the Cubs regarding a spring training decision and do not expect to hear anything until sometime next week, said city spokesman Kevin Christopher.
"We have not gotten any word from the Cubs," said Mesa City Manager Chris Brady.
NDN columnist David Moulton was the first to float the idea about luring the Cubs to Collier County for spring training. The speculation of a done deal in Mesa is a mixed-bag of emotion for him.
"I'm surprised and bummed," Moulton said. "I'm surprised because a week ago they were coming. So something changed. I'm not bummed for me but for Naples. There is no doubt in my mind that Naples would have been a better fit for the Cubs moving forward. Craig Bouchard and Fifth Avenue Advisors nearly pulled off a miracle. I hope everyone appreciates their effort."
There are some particulars to be figured out before any deal can be finalized.
The stadium, which will seat 15,000 fans, will cost approximately $84 million. Officials in both Maricopa County and the state of Arizona would need to approve the funding for such a venture.
It is estimated that Cubs fans could bring $36 million to Collier County each year, according to a new economic impact study, conducted by Fifth Avenue Advisors in partnership with Davidson-Peterson Associates.
A similar study stated that the state of Arizona could lose $52 million annually if the Cubs left to Florida.
Meanwhile in Mesa, city officials unveiled their proposal to keep the Chicago Cubs here for spring training, in a deal the team could sign off on as soon as Monday.
The City Council is expected to approve the plan Monday evening, and the team told Mesa that its decision will come soon after.
The plan was drafted on requests that the Cubs had to develop a Wrigleyville-themed complex, Mesa City Manager Chris Brady said. The city would own the stadium and training facilities. Mesa maintains the current training facilities, but Brady said the team wanted to take that expense and gain advertising rights at the new complex.
“They said, ‘How about if we do it?’” Brady said. “We said, ‘Here’s the keys.’”
The team’s five-member board of directors meets this weekend but the Cubs told Mesa they will make the decision only after the Monday vote, Brady said.
The decision would give Mesa exclusive negotiating rights while a more formal deal is worked out. Also, the legislature must approve a bill to direct tourism taxes to the new facility and Mesa voters would need to approve elements of the deal.
Brady acknowledged rumors that the team has already decided on Mesa or Naples, but he said the team hasn’t indicated a favorite or that Monday’s vote will automatically award the deal to Mesa.
“They haven’t said, ‘You’re it. Just do this.’” Brady said.