Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cubs to Stay in Mesa!

Well, that was fast. Monday, Mesa voted unanimously to approve plans necessary to keep the Cubs in Mesa, and then two days later, the Cubs have announced that they are staying (Tribune version here). Take that, Naples!

There is a great media round up at a cool new site called Cubs Win in AZ, which appears to have launched in the last few days. They have also launched a twitter account as well (@CubsWinInAZ) which joins @KeeptheCubs and @CubsinMesa as part of the growing tweetforce supporting the Cubs in Mesa.

This is great news for Mesa - especially since this is an economic opportunity that we could not, in any way, afford to lose. The devil, as they say, is now in the details - the City of Mesa and the Arizona State legislature must now step up with funding sources to help foot the bill for the $84 million dollar facility. While the price tag may seem a little steep, its important to remember that this amount would be covered more than a dozen times over in the next 25 years.

In these times of economic uncertainty, it's not only important to explore new opportunities, but to also hold on to what we have. The Cubs are a known quantity and a driving force behind all of Arizona's spring training. We're glad that Mesa and the State are willing to do what is necessary to keep the Cubbies in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mesa makes commitment to keep Cubs

Mesa voted unanimously last night to approve a new stadium, clubhouse, and training facility to keep the Cubs in Mesa. It appears that there are still kinks to be worked out, like where the stadium will be located and how, exactly, it will be paid for, but the agreement approved by the council would give Mesa the exclusive rights to get a deal done, which would take Florida off the table.

This is a good step forward for Mesa, getting the exclusive rights to make a deal happen and prevent any more actions by the Cubs to keep playing one state off of another. Now, we have to wait and see if the Cubs are willing to sign the agreement as well.

As we have said before, the economic benefits that the Cubs bring not only to Mesa but the entire valley cannot be overemphasized. They are the biggest draw in the Cactus League and the rising tide that raises all of the other teams. There is a reason that legislators outside of Mesa are willing to help make sure that this deal happens - they understand the fiscal impact that this would have on the valley.

The bad news is that there is a fairly aggressive set of timelines that need to be met to keep this deal on track. One of which, shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but you guessed it, the issue will also have to face an Election! What would a premier project be in Mesa without a vote of the people?

The other bit of difficult news is the notion that now is the time to build a new stadium when state and local budgets are in such need. Our response to that is think of the alternative. If Mesa does nothing to keep the Cubs, the action would further depress the local economy in the short term and would dim our city's economic viability in the long term. We are still very dependent on sale tax revenue to fund city services, and tax revenue is generated by attracting people to the City.

So, now, we just have to wait and see what the Cubs will do.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Check out @MesaIssues for Twitter Friday

once again, its Twitter Friday at Mesa Issues. All commentary will be via twitter.

Join the conversation! Let us know what you're thinking. Look for us at our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mesa's bid for higher education

Mayor Smith is leading the charge to attract more colleges to Mesa. He pointed to several smaller cities such as Pittsburgh which boast a significant number of universities. Although Mesa Public Schools has been a leader in producing outstanding graduates, there are not many opportunities to keep these bright students in Mesa.

Not only do these students need to leave town to get a quality education, they often have to leave the state. Our state universities have done a great job providing higher education, but they have been able to exist within a vacuum. As we have said before, a little competition would do some good, especially to ASU.

Not only should Mesa look to land a low cost university, but they should look to attract private universities and a medical school as well. In addition, perhaps the time has really come to spin off Poly to allow ASU to focus on their core missions in Tempe and downtown.

The biggest thing to remember is that this drive for higher education will not happen overnight. It will take some time, but Mesa is doing the right thing to cultivate these opportunities, even if they are faced with some skepticism. Mesa continues to strive to define itself instead of allowing the naysayers to do it.

Do the Cubs deserve upgraded batting cages?

It looks like the decision might come this week on if Mesa is going to shell out up to $750,000 in upgraded batting cages for the Cubs. The Cubs have not made their decision between Arizona and Florida, but it appears that they were willing to admit that if they do stay, they "won't look beyond Mesa."

While this is decent news, is it enough for Mesa to shell out $750,000 on upgraded facilities? Will these upgrades be enough to attract another ball club if either the Cubs move to a new facility or if they decide to skip town? At least, hopefully, the rest of the valley will rally behind Mesa, understanding how important the Cubs are to all of the other teams.

The Cubs are saying that they will make their decision by the end of the month. How will the council feel if they vote yes this week to spend the money and then in the next week or two, the Cubs take a hike?

All that being said, if Mesa thinks that these upgrades are an essential part to keeping the Cubs in town, then the investment is worth every penny. We cannot afford to lose the tourism revenue that spring training brings to town.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More people to watch

The Republic has put together a list of 10 people in Mesa to watch in 2010 (though the online version appears to have only 9). The list has a lot of good people on it, but we have to say that there are several that they have missed. We understand why they stuck with 10, it being "2010" and all, but here are 10 more people who should be on the list:

Mayor Scott Smith
We are all still getting used to the idea of a Mayor from Mesa making name for himself nationally and locally as a strong leader. Following a year of changing the way Mesa does business, he has an opportunity to shape the city for many years to come.

Senator Russell Pearce
Senator Pearce will be front and center in the state budget battle as appropriations chairman and he continues to push his reforms for illegal immigration. Ever the controversial figure, it is not clear if he will face a heated election like the one he weathered in 2008.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
While the Sheriff is not a Mesa resident, he continues to take special interest in our fair city. Will there be more raids? Has he really made peace with the Mayor? With several fights brewing on the county level, will Mesa slip from his radar?

Representative Rich Crandall
With Senator Chuck Gray deciding not to run for re-election, Representative Crandall appears to be the heir-apparent for the LD 19 Senate seat. While a Gray vs. Crandall head-to-head has been avoided, will the district face a bloody primary battle?

The Matta Family
Matta's Riverview is underway and you can follow their progress at Got Mattas? They are supposed to be using decorations and other things from the old restaurant. If the restaurant actually does open this year, expect the Matta family and their Mesa tradition to get a lot of attention.

James Tevault
If you don't know James by name, you certainly know his tweets over at @VisitMesa. He remains one of the best users of twitter in the Valley, keeping people up to date with what is going on in Mesa. He is truly a model for other tourism representatives across the state, a fact that we hope Mesa CVB is well aware of.

Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh
Kavanaugh has been leading the charge for the renewal of the Fiesta District and has made his voice heard on the Mesa City Council. While his domestic partner registry appears to be on the back burner, we expect that he will continue to make his presence known on the council this year.

Tribune Publishers
The Tribune has announced that they will continue to publish beyond their December 31, 2009 original deadline. Will they finalize a deal with a new buyer? With names like Scott Bordow leaving, will they still have the independent flavor that many of us have grown to love and respect? We hope Le Templar sticks around, however our offer to him to blog on Mesa Issues whenever he wants still stands.

Rex Griswold
He is still an interesting guy. Rumors of him running for another office appear to have cooled, but we still wouldn't be surprised if he threw his hat back in the political ring. With openings in LD 19 and at other levels of government, we expect that we will hear from him (and his smiling campaign signs) again.

Mesa Voters
As we mentioned in our 2010 preview, the voters will decide on city council members and new legislative representation this year. However, if any of the past few years have taught us, there may be several other local issues that could show up on the ballot - a Cubs referendum perhaps?

Happy New Year

After a few weeks off, we're back and ready to tackle the new year. While 2009 was marked nationally and locally by financial uncertainty, budget cuts, and job losses, we can hope that 2010 will be a year of renewal and opportunity. Here in Mesa, there are several things to watch over the next year:

The Chicago Cubs
While spring training tickets are already on sale for this year, the question looms on if the Cubs will stay in Mesa or if they will leave for Florida. Mesa remains firm in their commitment, but they have also made it clear that they expect the Cubs to come forward with an answer. Is there a Wrigley West in Mesa's future, or will be faced with losing millions in tourism revenue? We'll be keeping an eye on Keep the Cubs for the latest.

Gateway Airport and Surrounding Area
Gateway recently welcomed their 1 millionth traveler and Allegiant Air has announced that they will be purchasing 18 more planes. This is great news for the area as a travel hub. Now, we'll wait and see if there is good news about the aerospace incubator, the movie studio, the Gaylord Hotel and the future of ASU Polytechnic. As we have said before, the Gateway area has the area to lead not only Mesa's economic recovery, but the entire region's as well.

Budget Cuts
Mesa has already made dramatic budget cuts across the board and have reorganized local government to do more with less. The four day work week at City Hall appears to be working, and while the budget has been tight, public safety appears to be adequately maintained. We are, however, still at the mercy of rising and falling sales tax revenues, and there is still no telling what the State's looming budget shortfall will mean to the cities and towns. We may need to be prepared for more budget cuts in our future.

The Fiesta District
The end of 2009 was marked by a lot of talk about the Fiesta District and its future. From the constantly evolving strategic plan to the location of the new substation, it will be interesting to see if all of the talk translates into actual changes. Mesa's long standing history of reuse and renewal points to an eventual recovery of the area - will 2010 be the year that it happens?

Local and Legislative Elections
City Council Districts 4, 5, and 6 will be up for election this November. It sounds like Higgins and Somers will seek re-election, but no front runner has been determined for District 4. In addition, the state legislative races will be heating up with new potential representation for LD 21 and a round of musical chairs in LD 19 and LD 22. The East Valley has the potential for several new faces in the legislature later this year.

As you can see, as the new decade dawns, there are several exciting opportunities that lie ahead of us. AZCentral has a slide show that explores several more as well.