Pima County wants back in the business of baseball, and — in a twist — appears ready to pounce in the wake of another city’s struggles.
County officials sent a 17-page package to the Milwaukee Brewers last week, touting Kino Sports Complex and Kino Stadium. The letter concluded with an invitation for Brewers executive vice president Bob Quinn to visit for a tour. Kino served as the Chicago White Sox’s spring home from 1998-2008, and hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998-2009.
“I would be most interested in showing you the Kino Sports Complex when you are available, as well as introduce you to our county officials and tourism staff,” wrote Reenie Ochoa, Pima County Stadium District director.
The Brewers train at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, but the team’s contract is year-to-year. The team has recently pushed for a move to Gilbert, focusing on a site at Loop 202 at Lindsay and Germann roads.
The Brewers proposed paying $20 million of the $160 million estimated cost to build the stadium and an adjoining mixed-use “retail village,” according to reports. Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels balked at the idea of spending taxpayer money on the facility, saying the city could never recoup its investment.
“The math doesn’t work for #GilbertAZ,” she tweeted last week.
The Brewers say they’ve discussed a new, long-term lease in Maryvale, but the math may not work for them, either. Their current stadium seats just 7,000 fans, lowest in the Cactus League. Arizona spring training teams drew a record 1,941,347 fans this year, but the Brewers were near the bottom in average attendance.
The 162-acre Kino Sports Complex lacks the new-complex smell and retail village but is ready-made for spring training.
Pima County’s letter touts Kino Stadium’s “four clubhouses, full service concessions operations, press box, eight private upper level (suites) and 3,000+ parking spaces” at the 11,000-seat park. Kino has hosted a handful of Cactus League games over the last seven years, and the Pecos League’s Tucson Saguaros have played there over the last two summers. The annual Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta is played there every October.
Tucson has been without a spring training team since 2010, when the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies bolted the city-and-county-run stadiums for new facilities in the Phoenix area. The D-backs and White Sox shared Kino Stadium for years.
The Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders also played at Kino, then called Tucson Electric Park, from 1998-2008 before moving to Reno.
The Tucson Padres played three seasons (2011-13) at the south-side complex before they were purchased and relocated to El Paso.