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Is there anything fishy about the Cubs staying in Arizona for spring training?

Jan 25, 2010, 11:25 AM EDT

We haven’t really covered this story, but the short version is this:  The Cubs have trained in Arizona for 50 years, but their facilities are getting long in the tooth and they need new digs. Naples, Florida stepped up with a very attractive proposal to lure the Cubs to the Grapefruit League. It appeared as though the Cubs were going to jump, but at the last minute Mesa, Arizona made some concessions and the Cubs will stay in some fancy new facility to be named later.

This could simply be the way these things happen. If you believe what some people are saying, however, it could all be a big conspiracy theory in which Bud Selig strongly urged the Rickettseseses to take the Arizona deal — which is still a pipe dream by the way, because it needs voter approval which like less than a sure thing — and in turn will position the Brewers to take advantage of whatever the folks in Florida are offering when it comes time for them to find a new spring training home.

I love a good Bud-is-evil story as much as the next guy, but this one sounds like it has way too many moving parts to satisfy even my low conspiracy theory acceptance threshold.  Still, there’s nothing more shady than a stadium deal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the deals for spring training facilities are even more shady than they are for the big league parks. Fewer people watching, don’t you know.

  1. J. McCann - Jan 25, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    I just could not imagine the Cubs ever leaving Arizona, no matter what was threatened, ….. err said.
    Some team will be ready to jump at the Florida deal soon enough tho.

  2. Old Gator - Jan 25, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Craig – tell you what, I’m short on the legal details involved but if my memory serves me aright (which is no sure thing at this point in my life, admittedly), thus have I heard at one time: Bud wanted a nice new playpen to replace the decrepit old mesolithic facility in which his beloved Brewers were playing. The voters of Milwaukee went to the polls and told him and his supporters in no uncertain terms to take their nice new stadium and cram it where even bioluminescent protuberances on the barbels of predatory abyssal fish don’t shine. Somehow, though, the Milwaukee chapter of the Illuminatus got together (or maybe it was the plutocratic aliens from They Live) and a new stadium miraculously appeared anyway.
    Now, astute litigator that you doubtless were in your prime, you might well have gotten the judge to hide records of past deeds from the jury for fear of prejudicing the case of your soft pink defendant. However, out here in the middle of the playground where we now find ourselves, jurisprudence and a pig iron umbrella will get you hit by lightning. Ergo, go ahead and take past performance into consideration and then let us know where your threshold of credulity has relocated itself. Deal?

  3. ChrisKoz - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Ah, finally something I’m somewhat familiar with.
    First of all, the Florida move was a bit of a non-starter. Many familiar with the program have stated that the distance involved with moving to the Grapefruit league was unattractive. The closest team was, I believe, a two hour drive from Naples (to contrast, it’s about 30 minutes maximum for them in Arizona). Second, the weather is slightly more problematic in Florida. Third, there is a large contingent of Chicago ex-pats in the greater Phoenix area which makes for a nice built-in fanbase. So all of that made it less than ideal for the Ricketts family.
    As to Mesa, the Cubs are seen as a bit of an anchor there and the city was willing to fight to keep them. As a frequent Spring Training traveler, yes there is money to be had. Further, there is a connection, however small, with the residents and the spring training that takes place. There’s a reason when the Cubs play the D-Backs that there are a hearty number of Cubs fans in the crowd. So, the vote, in my less than expert opinion, is that the measure will pass rather easily.
    As for Bud, I can’t stand the guy, but I don’t think he has his grubby little mitts in on the deal. In fact, there has been a bit of an exodus from Florida since the realignment. I would think that Bud would actually want the opposite and have a marquee team move to Florida to give the Grapefruit League a boost.
    Of course, this is all just one dude’s opinion. If you want more, Al over at Bleed Cubbie Blue has had some similar thoughts on the topic. He’s much better connected than little old me.

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