Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Naples group is serious about the Cubs

The group from Naples, FL is serious in their endeavor to attract the Cubs. They have several serious supporters and it looks like they may have a few funding options at their disposal. As Keep the Cubs mentions, however, they appear to have very little political support for their effort. So, if push comes to shove, and the stadium eventually needs taxpayer funds (which pretty much all stadiums do), there's a big chance at trouble.

However, with the intentions of Naples on the table, it does teach us a few things:

First, as blogger Joanna Allhands points out, a downtown stadium is probably out of the picture. There is not enough acreage available to support that type of facility and retail attraction that the Cubs appear to be looking for. If Mesa is to be competitive, their location will not likely be downtown.

Next, it appears that more than Mesa may need to be involved. By now, the Cactus League must realize that the Cubs are the rising tide that lifts all ships. They should be helping keep the Cubs in Arizona. Same goes for all midwest transplants throughout the Valley. The local Cubs fans should be on red-alert.

Finally, Mesa is going to need to hit a homerun. Not that there isn't enough pressure on Mayor Scott Smith, City Manager Chris Brady, and whomever else is on their team already, but Mesa needs to show that they have come to play. This may not necessarily mean more money or bigger deals, but it should show a creativity that may not have characterized Mesa in the past. This is just too big of a revenue source to let leave. Which means Mesa should either embrace the Keep the Cubs effort that is already underway, or do more in promoting their own effort.


Heath Reed said...

I disagree with blogger Joanna about downtown. Gateway to me is not a realistic location as of now. Downtown needs it and like I have said many times, it can happen if the city can team up with multiple funding sources to build a multipurpose stadium and complex. They need local and Chicago investors to come here and work with the outside deals of retail, office, housing etc. Making a district around the stadium. Gateway would be great 15 years down the road, but location is important and this can help downtown and rail is coming soon too.

The city can find a way to relocate companies and buy up land without using Eminent domain. Plus, fitch park already provides four practice fields and the rest of the land just south and east of it is owned by the city which can be turned into additional fields and park space.

Look at the options. You have the main draw in the cubs at this flex stadium. You have the WAC championship here. For a long time, Mesa has been a player and a possible option for a MLS team or a USL-1 soccer team. This can share the stadium. Also, since so many people complain about the amphitheater, you can hold concerts at the stadium too. The location of downtown and being closer to the major metro center gives this stadium and location multiple options and an even bigger revenue for the city. Both downtown and gateway have their pros and cons, but I think downtown outweighs gateway right now.

Mesa Issues said...

Heath, we think you're off track on this one. The deal with the Cubs needs to be done now, not in years when the deals could be done to move people out of downtown to make room for such a stadium. Hohokam doesn't work because it has no retail, no freeway access, and no room to grow. Besides, Fitch park it outdated. One of the main reasons we have heard why the Cubs want a new facility is for the new high tech training.

It would be nice to have a flex stadium, but that is going to cause even greater size and use issues. Plus, you can bet that the Cubs are going to want to use this as a training facility year round, which will mean that there won't really be room for some of the multi-uses your are talking about.

We understand that you are a West Mesa advocate, but this type of project is probably going to be better suited for larger tracts of land in either north or southeast Mesa.

In addition, your posit that putting it closer to the metropolitan area will help make more money for Mesa is not necessarily true. People come to Mesa to watch the Cubs game and they stay and shop in Tempe or Scottsdale. They will continue to do so if the stadium stays there.

As for Gateway, think about a direct flight from Chicago to Gateway, people staying in the Gaylord hotel, and then going to the games in Southeast Mesa... that's all revenue for Mesa.

Whatever it takes to keep the Cubs in Mesa should be done, but we think that Allhands has a point about the shortfalls of downtown.

Heath Reed said...

Point taken, but it seems like we are not on the same page here. I enjoy the dialogue between you and I. I think it should be talked about and research about the pros and cons of both sides of town and comparing each location now and in the future. A stadium is not going to be built for a few years, even with a vote. I do think most likely they will end up towards gateway because of the easy fix of open land. I have lived in West Mesa, and East Mesa and have enjoyed to a point each side of the city.

Where I do think you are wrong is on three aspects of your post. First is about Fitch park, stadium uses, and people leaving to shop in Tempe and Scottsdale.

Fitch Park is already owned by the city, same with adjacent land to the park. The park can be revamped and updated to a high-tech training facility for the cubs year around. This actually comes at a lower cost to the city and can be done sooner than later. Second is, the cubs do not use hohokam year around, its more the training facility than the stadium. The fall league plays at Hohokam, and so will the WAC championship in the spring. You are right about people leaving to Scottsdale and Tempe to shop. Locating it to east mesa will not stop these people for doing this still in the next decade or so. Yes, they can go to superstition springs area, but is it a place that many will want to go after if they are heading west? If there are shops in and around downtown and around Fiesta Mall, why are they going to stop at Superstitions? Why not go to Gilbert and shop?

As you said, there is no retail around hohokam. I am not advocating it to stay there. But you have to look at economics here, especially if the city is fronting most of the cost. If you look at Westgate, it is not doing that great on the edge of the valley. They have two stadium uses in the area too. Downtown Tempe is doing great because the city decided to reinvest into the downtown, same with Scottsdale. The Giants play in downtown Scottsdale.

Now Gateway seems like the obvious answer to many, especially in the city. It is going to be decades away from coming close to being realized. Superstition vistas will not materialized for another few decades after that. There is no direct flight for now and no hotels to support this for now. We don’t even know when Gaylord will break ground, same with the second hotel.

This also shows the continuum of the city to focus on the east side of the community and to overlook the central and western side of Mesa. There is a reason why downtown and west mesa is the way it is. We looked east and saw available land and left the rest to decay. The new has caught our eye, and the reinvestment has been overlooked. Downtown is supposed to be the heart of our community. You look at it and it tells a story about our community. We are barely hanging on with a few shocks of events in downtown ever month or so.

I will be happy if they stay in Mesa no matter where the location is. The infrastructure is available in central and west mesa now. The downside is like you and Joanna pointed out the obstacle of getting land. But we cannot discount areas just due to available land because then we are being shortsighted in our efforts.

Mesa Issues said...

Neither downtown Scottsdale nor downtown Tempe are doing that well. Tempe has been severly hurt by Tempe Marketplace and Downtown Scottsdale is suffering from everyone shopping in North Scottsdale. The traditional downtown quaint model does not work.

Heath Reed said...

You obviously don’t fully understand what you are talking about here, so I will let it be.

I just hope that somehow Mesa can make the deal happen. Outside of the areas I have mention, especially Gateway will not be that much of an improvement over the current location economically.

Mesa Issues said...

We don't fully understand what we are talking about? This coming from a guy who thinks that downtown Tempe and Scottsdale are doing well and thinks there is enough space in Downtown Mesa to make a stadium work.

We think you may not have a full grasp of what you are talking about.

Heath Reed said...

Who is WE mesa issues?

I for one have worked and studied plenty of environments like this. I do feel I have a grasp on this stuff. So, what places work? Give me an example?

I get your picture of a cubs facility on the east side of town, which will happen unless they leave the state. I support wherever it goes. I personally wanted downtown, and think it could work.