Economy Slows Goodyear Development

An article from the Zanesville Times-Reporter details how the economic downturn has stalled development around the new spring training facilities for the Reds and Indians in Goodyear, Arizona.  I don’t claim to know much about our national economy, but it doesn’t look good.

Extra expenses could include $3.6 million to complete the art, retail and plaza space at the ballpark where the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds will play, plus $2.5 million a year for municipal services in the Sonoran Valley, a 67-square-mile area the city annexed last year.

Meanwhile, Goodyear’s stadium retail development is in limbo.
A family sold a portion of their land to Goodyear for its ballpark and was supposed to develop attached retail space, a plaza area and an art project at the site.
But the family’s companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.

Bankruptcy? Yikes.  The “retail development” is always the big kicker to any stadium deal but in reality new stadiums don’t have the impact on communities that teams claim that they have.  We’ve been hearing about development in Cincinnati near GABP for years but it hasn’t come to fruition.

It isn’t really the Reds’ fault or city’s fault for this, but it will hurt revenue that the city hoped to get from taxes on new buisnesses locating near the ballpark that would service the fans.  Hopefully by the time 2010 rolls around the economy will be back and development can resume by the time Reds fans arrive in Arizona.

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Goodyear Vote Today (Updated)

Goodyear city council members will be voting today to allow funding for the $33 million dollar spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona. The funding will allow the Reds to have a separate training facility with fields, offices, and other amenities while sharing the 10,000 seat stadium that is currently being built for the Clevland Indians.

A seven person council must pass the measure by a majority vote with one member recusing himself.

If this does not pass, one would assume that the process would open back up allowing for Sarasota to make a counter-offer after they turned down $16 mil in funding before the Reds entered into an exclusivity agreement with Goodyear, AZ for negations nearly 75 days ago.

The council will meet at 5 PM (not sure if this is MTN time or EST) with a vote coming an hour later. You can watch the proceedings Here

We think, barring some sort of major development, this will pass. Councilwoman Joanne Osborne was concerned because roads, schools, and libraries were not being built in the small suburb of Phoenix. There was some talk about raising the hotel tax in order to fund the facilities and to pacify Councilwoman Osborne.

————-UPDATE————

It looks like the measure will pass with the FULL support of the council.

Final Vote 6-0, motion passes to bring the Reds to Goodyear, AZ

John Allen passed out Reds hats to all the council members following the vote.

Reds Spring Training in Arizona

CFT is back from our break after being in Colorado for about five days.  That and the fact that there hasn’t been a lot of Reds news leading up to the final weeks before spring training opens in Sarasota. 

In fact, we thought we would look at spring training specifically and the fact that the Reds are in talks right now with the city of Goodyear, Arizona after Sarasota, Florida, home of Reds Spring Training since 1998, has decided not to upgrade and refurbish Ed Smith Stadium.

Last November Sarasota residents voted down a tax revenue bond to fund upgrades to Ed Smith Stadium that was in bad disrepair.  One of the major issues that the stadium had was that it did not comply with federal mandates of the Americans Disabilities Act which requires facilities to be fully accessible to those with handicaps.  There were several votes on the issue this January trying to find a solution about what percentage the city would be willing to pay for the upgrades but the Reds and city board members reached an impasse just a few days ago.  Both sides were very far apart on the amount of money each were to contribute to the project, and thus the Reds started looking elsewhere.

Former COO John Allen was retained by the Reds to spearhead the search committee and look for a new spring home.  Goodyear, Arizona, which is a suburb west of Phoenix, recently approved a deal that would bring the Cleveland Indians, who start in Goodyear in 2009, to the desert with a brand new stadium.  The Reds would share that stadium. 

On January 29th, the Reds signed an exclusivity agreement with the city of Goodyear that says the Reds can not talk or negotiate with any other city or individual about a future spring training home.  Goodyear has 45 days to come up with a funding proposal for facilities that will be used exclusively for the Reds.

One of the major arguments against moving spring training to Arizona is obviously the distance from Cincinnati.  Many of the facilities that the Reds used in Sarasota were also used for the rookie development league as well as injury re-habilitation assignments.  By having to move some of those facilities across the country, the travel costs for the team would skyrocket.  Also, the distance would obviously prohibit families from making the trip when most families also use the time in February and March to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in nearby Orlando. 

All indications point to a deal being done because quite frankly Sarasota hasn’t shown any desire for increased taxes and bonds that would fund at least an upgrade to Ed Smith Stadium.  Why go someplace where you aren’t wanted?