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?