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Florida group to Cubs: Tell us if we’re really in the running to land spring training

Representatives of a Florida group seeking to bring the Chicago Cubs spring-training activities to Naples are scheduled to talk to team officials today; they want to know if they still have a shot at landing the team. Sometimes it’s better not to know, though.

Drawing a line in the sand may be a good business strategy in some cases, but probably not when dealing with an MLB team. Demanding to know your status — as the Naples folks plan on doing to Cubs president Crane Kinney today — is so high school.

The group is taking a rather odd strategy toward landing the Cubs: they’re making legal arguments that the deal between the Cubs and Mesa for an $84 million facility is now null and void because the city missed some deadlines in procuring the deal. Well, duh: talks between Mesa and the Cubs are ongoing not because the Cubs are legally required to participate in them; they’re ongoing because the Cubs want to stay in Arizona. True, Monday was the end of the exclusive negotiating period with the city, but we were told that didn’t change a single thing for the Cubs.

“The mayor of Mesa is taking the position that their newest proposal meets the conditions of the original (agreement),” Craig Bouchard, vice chairman of Esmark, told the Naples Daily News. “Our interpretation is that it does not … therefore, we are back to square one.”

So for the Naples group to make this aggressive and legalistic argument — demanding some clarity as to their status — may not be the best negotiating ploy. Besides, every indication is that the team is not leaving Mesa. Yesterday Tom Ricketts said the team is working with Mesa and not focused on any deadlines, and late in the day the Cubs released the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made and Mesa’s commitment to fund a new stadium and sports facility for the team as well as to provide incentives for private development of adjoining land. We continue to work with Mesa to finalize a deal.”

Not quite sure what needs clarifying for the Florida folks.

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