Gilbert (AZ) officials say they have no plans to fund a proposed $90-million new Milwaukee Brewers spring training complex, but the team and a developer are still pursuing the project and may pursue private financing.
Several months ago the Brewers and developer LGE Design Build approached the city about the possibility of city funding a new complex near Loop 202 at Lindsay and Germann roads. After an economic study indicated the city would not recoup the construction costs of a complex featuring a a 7,500-seat ballpark, six practice fields, 55,000-square-foot clubhouse and 10,000-square-foot office, Mayor Jenn Daniels concluded talks with the team.
But that’s not stopping the Brewers and LGE Design Build from pursuing the project, along with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber commissioned its own study calling for a small level of city support for infrastructure and operations work on a scaled-down $75-million project featuring a $70-million office/hotel/retail development. From the Arizona Republic:
Chamber President and CEO Kathy Tilque said it was her understanding that the team would pay for the stadium. That would be unusual, as Maricopa County taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions to build spring-training ballparks.
The chamber’s economic development study — which was funded without town money or knowledge, according to Daniels — was broader and found much more positive results than the one commissioned by the town.
The analysis found that the town’s potential $3.5 million annual contribution would be a “reasonable and justifiable cost,” as the stadium would:
- Create more than 1,900 jobs during construction of the facility and village.
- Construction would produce $267 million dollars in economic benefit.
- Create nearly 2,500 jobs associated with operating the facility and village.
- Produce $278 million in annual economic benefit to the community after operational.
The Brewers are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to a new spring-training facility. The boom in new Cactus League facilities is over, as state and county funding has dried up. That leaves it up to communities and teams to fund spring-training facilities, and as we see in the case of Gilbert, most are not interested in extending the city’s credit for spring training. (Gilbert is not the first community approached by the Brewers: most famously, the team approached Peoria for funding on a second spring complex.) Phoenix has also been reluctant to fund upgrades to Maryvale Baseball Park and the adjacent training complex. While Maryvale Baseball Park is a perfectly nice little ballpark, it could use some upgrades, especially at the actual training areas.
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