The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority wants a Major League Baseball spring training campus in Marana, and intends for it to be “green.”
A recently submitted 48-page proposal to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the $125 million campus, which would stand at Tangerine Road and Interstate 10, emphasized sustainable building materials, energy efficiency and conservative water use.
The proposed campus, which would be completed in 2012, would meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Engineering and Design standards.
Enabling legislation, in the form of House Bill 2397, has been offered in the Arizona Legislature by Rep. Vic Williams, R-26. If approved, it would allow formation of a sports authority district, which in turn would ask voter approval on the issuance of bonds to finance “the construction, renovation, expansion or repair of Cactus League baseball stadiums, youth sports and multipurpose facilities” in Pima County.
Funding for the three-team stadium complex would come from a $150 million bond issue, to be paid off with a tax on vehicle rentals, lodging, restaurants, bars and professional sporting events. Tax rates, ranging from .15 of 1 percent to .45 of 1 percent according to each industry’s impact on tourism, would generate an estimated $16 million to $17 million a year, according to the proposal.
Also, the authority would consider enlisting the Diamondbacks’ support in creating a Major League Baseball academy in Tucson for minority youth.
The authority has proposed HOK Sport as the designer of the Marana campus. HOK Sport has designed ballparks in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Diego, Houston and New York City.
Spring training has a long history in Tucson. It started in 1947, when Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians threw the first pitch at Hi Corbett Field. In 1998, Tucson Electric Park opened, and Tucson became the first city in the United States to play host to three Major League Baseball spring training teams — the Rockies, the Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox.
The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority hopes its proposal will keep the Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies in Tucson for spring training.