By: Melissa S. Wollering
Should Cactus League fans foot the bill for a new Chicago Cubs Spring Training stadium in Mesa, Arizona? Too late. We don’t have a choice.
It will now be more expensive for you and I to watch Spring Training in the desert. Cubs Nation was successful Wednesday with a piece of legislation that will tack a ticket surcharge onto all spring-training games in the state and increase the region’s car-rental tax.
Starting in March, I’ll be part of the Sportsbank.net Spring Training Team, bringing you MLB coverage directly from Arizona each day. So I’m prepared to demonstrate how annoying this tax could be, possibly killing some folks’ desires to travel to the region.
My plane ticket from Milwaukee to Arizona cost about $275 and that’s only because I booked early knowing it would help a wee bit. After finding exorbitant rental car prices from each and every major company’s Website, I opted for bidding on Priceline.
Friends, I’m paying $300 to drive a TINY car around for 6 days there and that’s after I secured a 27% discount. What is the average person paying? More like $100 per day to rent four stinking wheels. And you know what? The Phoenix Airport only has two car counters. To obtain your car from any one of the other 12+ companies, you have to get shuttled off-site. You think I want ANOTHER TAX on top of the load you’re making me pay now for the sub-par service you offer?
According to the Associated Press, an attorney hired by Selig’s office spoke up at a legislative hearing Wednesday in Phoenix. It didn’t help. The Milwaukee Brewers and the rest of the Cactus League teams also opposed the tax, saying it is an unfair burden to baseball fans and that it would solely benefit the Cubs.
Here’s what will happen. Car rental fees will go up a dollar per day in Maricopa County and every Spring Training ticket you purchase will be 8-percent higher. That doesn’t sound like much at first, but your taxes and fees for car rentals are based on your per day rental rate. For every extra dollar you negotiate to pay for the car “per day”, you actually have to pay $20 extra in taxes and fees. Figure that one out.
The legislation is expected to generate $58M for a new stadium and practice facilities for the Chicago Cubs. Mesa would pay about $26M, and the team would cover any costs exceeding $84M.
Will other Cactus teams see any benefit whatsoever? Maybe. Arizona’s Republican House Majority Leader John McComish claims part of the money raised would help other Cactus League teams upgrade their facilities. But we’ll see about that and how much help that translates to.
The Cubs have threatened to move to Naples, Florida. The organization wants to build a tourist destination they coin “Wrigleyville West,” which Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium apparently cannot accommodate due to space constraints. Under the current lease, the Cubs could leave Mesa as soon as 2012. The Cubs generate an estimated $138 million for the state of Arizona.
The House Bill, number 2736, is likely to be changed as it moves through the legislative process. Plus, an agreement between the Cubs and the city of Mesa dictates that the Cubs need the legislation AND the vote of their people—Mesa voters will apparently have to approve the tax and idea of the Cubs staying put in their November election.
Here’s to hoping the Cubs beat the Diamondbacks repeatedly this season; pissing off D-Backs Nation and ruining the popular vote in Mesa. Just remember, your vote counts. And from the words of a popular man from Chicago, THAT is change you can believe in.
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