TEP - a stadium in search of a name (sort of)

2010-09-04T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T08:57:46Z TEP - a stadium in search of a name (sort of)Andrea Kelly Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 04, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Tucson Electric Park is on the verge of being "the stadium formerly known as" - a stadium naming contest waiting to happen.

The county-owned baseball facility is home to a stadium and practice fields, but nobody plays there any more, since the Tucson Sidewinders and spring training have packed up and moved on.

Tucson Electric Power Co. had a long-standing naming rights deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but didn't renew its contract after the team announced it was moving into someplace a bit more upscale, or at least newer, near Scottsdale, said Joe Salkowski, TEP spokesman.

The company's neon moniker still looks out over the field, but it's only a matter of time before that comes down. How much time, no one is sure just yet.

The electric utility first signed a 10-year naming rights contract with the Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, Salkowski said. After that $2 million contract expired in 2007, the two sides renewed it on an annual basis, he said.

"Our contract with the Diamondbacks expired this summer. They're no longer affiliated with the park. They will no longer have any spring training games there. So the Diamondbacks no longer have any relationship with the county related to the park," Salkowski said.

That's true, in one sense. The Diamondbacks have made it clear they are leaving. But it's not true on paper, at least not according to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. He says the Diamondbacks have not formally broken their contract to use the park through the next spring's Major League Baseball training season.

"Until we hear otherwise, they still have a lease that we believe is in effect," Huckelberry said.

The naming rights belong to the Diamondbacks, and the concession revenue belongs to the county, according to the agreement between the team and the county, he said.

"Right now, as far as we're concerned, the agreement is still enforced. Therefore it's still appropriate that the facility still be named Tucson Electric Park because there was compensation from the Tucson Electric to the Diamondbacks," Huckelberry said.

Even though the utility company hasn't paid for the signs this year, it won't be taking them off the stadium.

"It's not our ballpark and we have no authority to do that," Salkowski said of removing the signs.

Thus, the now-technically unnamed park is still Tucson Electric Park as the signs are caught in a back-and-forth akin to a "Who's on First?" comedy bit.

Contact reporter Andrea Kelly at akelly@azstarnet.com or 807-7790.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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