The Cubs Tax

I’m a Cubs fan. I grew up in Chicago, and I loved going to games at Wrigley Field. The Cubs will start spring training in a couple of weeks in Mesa, Arizona. And that’s what this story is all about.

The Cubs stadium in Arizona, Hohokam Stadium, is old (by Cactus League standards). The training complex isn’t up-to-date either. So the Cubs want to modernize, and the estimated cost is $119 million. The Cubs and other private entities would contribute $60 million; the public (in Arizona) is being asked to contribute $59 million.

That $59 million would come through bonds and be paid back through new taxes: a higher car rental tax and a surcharge on spring training tickets. Legislation to put this into law will be introduced in the Arizona House on Monday by Majority Leader John McComish (R-Ahwatukee Foothills).

The legislation is opposed by 14 of 15 Cactus League teams according to Derrick Hall, the President of the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Presumably, the Cubs are in favor of it.) The Cubs are the biggest draw in the Cactus League, with games at Hohokam drawing nearly 11,000 fans while the average Cactus League games draws 6,400.. “The Cubs are the linchpin of the Cactus League, McComish told the Arizona Republic.

Of course, there is some irony in all of this. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox, criticized the Cubs’ deal. Scott Smith, Mayor of Mesa, noted, “Is this the same Jerry Reinsdorf that skipped out on Pima County taxpayers who had spent tens of millions of dollars to provide him with a taxpayer-funded stadium, to come to Glendale, where Maricopa County taxpayers provided him a Taj Mahal spring-training facility?”

Given the current budget and anti-tax increase climate, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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