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Tucson officials court Japanese team for spring training

With the defection of the Chicago White Sox this year and the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies after Spring Training 2010, Tucson officials are proactively seeking a pro Japanese team to fill the slack at Tucson Electric Field as a member of the Cactus League.

The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority authorized Jack Donovan to negotiate potential leases with Japanese teams; he’ll be leaving for Japan later this month and has a deadline of September 15 to make a deal.

The goal is to bring in one team for 2010 and two for 2011, all as playing members of the Cactus League. The Japanese team would share Tucson Electric Park with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010. MLB officials so far have encouraged efforts to bring in a Japanese team, presumably as a way to even out the scheduling in coming years: with the Cincinnati Reds moving to Goodyear in 2010, there is now an odd number (15) of teams in the Cactus League. Adding a Japanese team would make scheduling easy.

One thing we have heard from the MLB side: if a Japanese team is added, don’t look for it to play a full complement of home games in Tucson. That team will likely play more games in Phoenix as a road team, fodder for the 13 teams playing in the Valley of the Sun.

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