25 Days and Counting

With football nearly over and college basketball (admittedly my favorite sport) in full swing, it is time to look forward to spring training in just 25 days until pitchers and catchers report.

I came across this article in the Hearld Tribune about the the city of Sarasota still receiving money from the state of Florida despite not going ahead with plans to build a new stadium.

For nearly two years, Sarasota has been getting a monthly check of $41,667 from the state to finance a stadium deal with the Cincinnati Reds deal.

— snip —

All the while, though, those monthly checks kept coming in and now amount to $958,341. Fort Lauderdale has also been getting monthly checks and has not been able to reach a deal to keep the Orioles.

It is not free money, though. It can only be spent on a stadium deal that includes at least a 15-year lease.

The one catch: The state cannot get back the money that it has already paid out to the city.  Sort of.

Of course, since the Legislature wrote the original loopholed law, it can just write a new one requiring Sarasota and/or Fort Lauderdale to give the money back.

I can’t believe that the citizens of Florida would be happy with $1MM in funds just sitting in Sarasota with no way to spend it given the economic hit that the state has taken over lost tourism dollars.

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?

Lazy Sunday Links and News II

Brandon Phillips and Matt Beslisle arbitration
Both Brandon Phillips and Matt Belisle filed for arbitration this week. 

For Belisle: Salary-$390,000 Asking-$1.65 million Reds Counter-$1 million

For Phillips: Salary-$407,000 Asking -$4.2 million Reds Counter-$2.7 million

JinAZ has a nice breakdown with some figures

Spring Training Home
Former COO John Allen made a trip out to Goodyear, Arizona this past week looking at a new site for the Reds’ spring training home.  Looks like Sarasota wants to make a counter offer to “re-build” Ed Smith Stadium which is in bad need of repair and to come up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Read about it here and here

MLB Congressional Hearings
Last week Senator George Mitchell, Commissioner Bud Selig, and Player’s Union President Don Fehr had an appearance before Congress about the Mitchell Report.  Although I have barely watched some of the nearly four hours of testimony and questions, nothing much was gained; except for the fact that some Congressmen and Congress women know little or nothing about baseball.  One Congresswoman compared steroids in baseball to Britney Spears shenanigans. 

Baseball Prospectus Prospects List
BP has put out some information on Jay Bruce and the rest of the minor league prospects in the Reds system.  A subscription is required for the entire article.