Officials in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa announced a new financing plan Thursday for building a new spring training complex for the Chicago Cubs so the team doesn’t move its spring operations to Florida.
City officials said cornerstones of the $84 million plan include a proposed increase in the city’s bed tax on hotel rooms and using city money from special funds that are fed from non-tax revenue sources, such as golf courses.
Sales and property taxes would not figure in the plan, but revenue from selling some city-owned rural property in Pinal County would be available to replenish the special funds, officials said.
If the City Council agrees, Mesa voters would be asked in November to authorize spending city money on sports facilities and to approve increasing the bed tax to 5 percent from the current 3 percent.
The Cubs are the most popular draw among major league teams that train in Arizona and represent a major source of tourism income for Mesa.
“March is our spring Christmas, and the Cubs are Santa,” city manager Chris Brady said. “They deliver the packages to Mesa every march, and we can’t afford to let that go.”
The city is acting on its own because the Arizona Legislature rejected proposed legislation that included surcharges on car rentals and on all spring training games in Arizona to help finance a new spring home for the Cubs. Those proposals drew opposition, particularly from other teams.
There still needs to be regional action to come up with new funding to pay for improved facilities for other teams, Mesa officials said.