Talks ongoing with 2 MLB teams

2010-04-29T00:00:00Z 2014-07-09T11:46:41Z Talks ongoing with 2 MLB teamsSarah Trotto Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 29, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority officials are talking to two major-league teams about the possibility of them spending spring training in Tucson.

PCSTA chairman Tom Tracy declined to identify the teams, whose leases at their current facilities expire at 2014 or later. He said he and another PCSTA official will visit the teams at their "domains" in May.

Tracy stressed at the PCSTA's meeting Wednesday that the group has not given up hope of bringing major-league teams to Tucson. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies left their sites in Tucson for a new spring site near Scottsdale starting next year.

"(This is) not for next year. There are contracts that begin to expire all over the spring training landscape over the next four or five years," Tracy said of the two unidentified teams. "Unless we get in the forefront of these people's minds, we'll never be considered. The point is we're not turning our back to that."

Tracy said PCSTA will deliver to the teams information about Pima County and facilities encompassing Kino Sports Complex and Tucson Electric Park.

"We've been optimistic for the last two months," PCSTA executive director Mike Feder said. "You wish there was an announcement, but that doesn't mean there's any less possibility of it happening."

The D-backs and Rockies moved after complaining about the lack of competition and increased travel in a two-team setting. They will join all 13 other Cactus League teams in the Phoenix area.

The PCSTA also remains focused on bringing Japanese teams to Tucson for spring training starting next spring. Officials said a deal will likely have to be reached before the end of June.

"I'm very hopeful," Tracy said. "Certainly, mid-summer is going to be a drop-dead date because Major League Baseball will be making plans, and so will the Japanese teams."

Jack Donovan, who heads Baseball's International Group, the liaison between the PCSTA and Japanese teams, said BIG has had "steady" conversations with one Japanese team in particular, but he declined to identify it. In the past, BIG has been in discussions with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Rakuten Golden Eagles, Orix Buffaloes and Lotte Marines' Japanese and Korean teams. The Fighters canceled a visit to Tucson in March, and Rakuten had also been looking at a visit.

Donovan said he hopes at least one to four Japanese teams would train at Kino Sports Complex.

"Before, the lines of communication were pretty quiet. Now they've opened up," Donovan said. "We're very excited about it."

To finalize a deal, a group will likely visit Japan, Donovan said. Three South Korean teams are also interested, and BIG has been talking to Mexican major-league teams about training here.

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