Selig nixes talk of tax for Cubs park
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday there will be no "Cubs tax," a proposal that would have placed a surcharge on tickets sold at all Arizona spring games to pay for a new ballpark for the Chicago Cubs in Mesa.
There had been much rancour between the Cubs and other teams that hold spring training in the state.
Speaking to reporters Saturday at HoHoKam Park, the facility the Cubs have deemed inadequate, Selig said Major League Baseball has taken over negotiations for a new Cubs spring home.
"If everybody will stay out of the way," he said, "we'll get something done."
The Cubs are the biggest draw in Arizona and have threatened to move their spring headquarters to Naples, Fla., if they don't get a new park in Mesa, where they have trained the last 32 years.
A recent study commissioned by Mesa said the Cubs bring in $138 million US annually to the city's economy.
Earlier this month, the Arizona House of Representatives agreed to a 10 per cent surcharge on tickets for all spring games in hopes of raising $185 million over 30 years. The Cubs would have received $58 million toward a new $84 million Mesa complex.
Some of the money also would have been used to build and refurbish other Arizona ballparks over the next three decades, but owners of several other teams complained repeatedly about what they dubbed the Cubs tax.
"It got a little bit out of hand," Selig said. "That's when I called all parties and said, 'Go home and rest; we'll take it from here and get it done.'
"We're working toward a solution. There will be a solution. There has to be a solution. We have stepped in and we're going to stay in until we get a deal done. My hope is that the Cubs can get what they want here, and that it's satisfactory not only for the Cubs and for baseball but for the other teams."
Selig said it was a "dangerous precedent" to tax all ticket-buyers primarily for the benefit of one team. He wouldn't go into specifics on when Arizona lawmakers again would get involved.
On another issue, Selig said he thought MLB would weather the current worst economic downturn.
"I think the game is poised to have a very good year," he said. "I know times are tough ... but I feel good about where we are. Ticket sales are beginning to pick up in a lot of places. Our business is good."