Legislation that aims to ensure the Chicago Cubs continue to call Mesa home for spring training baseball was stripped of its controversial provisions today and approved by the Arizona House of Representatives, though work on the matter is far from done.
Gone – for the time being, at least – is a tax on rental cars and an 8-percent surcharge on all Cactus League baseball tickets, though the language for an unspecified surcharge still remains.
House Majority Leader John McComish, the bill’s sponsor, pleaded with lawmakers to pass the bill in order to allow negotiations to continue with the Cubs, cities, Major League Baseball and other Cactus League teams.
“We need to move this forward to the Senate in order to keep this process moving,” he told colleagues during the vote of H2736. “There is not time to start over again.”
McComish was successful, as the bill was approved by a 35-19 vote. However, both Republicans and Democrats voiced their opposition to the measure and the idea that ticket surcharges for all spring training games is a proper way to finance a new stadium for the Cubs.
“I’m just not sure that this is the answer. I’m not sure that taxing fans of other teams is the way to go,” said Rep. Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat.
McComish said the bill won’t advance in the Senate unless a deal is reached with the stakeholders. That will require it be amended, which will allow the House to vote on the measure in its final form.
The Cubs and Mesa have a tentative deal to build the team an $84 million spring training complex at a yet-to-be determined location along the Loop 202. The Cubs want to build a “Wrigleyville West” retail development around the facilities.
If approved by the Legislature, Mesa voters would still need to OK bonds to help subsidize the project, city leaders have said.