Deadline near in Reds' spring dealings
Arizona city must identify facility funding sources by Thursday
SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the Reds continue Spring Training in Florida, an important date looms in their efforts for a possible camp relocation to Arizona.The city of Goodyear, Ariz., has until Thursday to publicly identify its funding sources to bring a second Major League team that would share a still-under-construction Spring Training complex. Goodyear is already building a $75 million facility for the Indians, but it would cost an estimated $32 million to bring a second team to town. The extra money would be for an additional clubhouse, offices, practice fields and a Minor League complex. The stadium would be shared with the Indians, who will move from Florida to Arizona for Spring Training starting in 2009. "[March 13] is a date where funding has be identified. A deal doesn't have to be done," said John Allen, the Reds' former chief operating officer, who's serving as a consultant and negotiator for the team. The Reds and Goodyear are currently in a 75-day exclusive negotiating period that expires on April 11. If the sides reach a deal, the Reds could start participation in the Cactus League by 2010. Allen has spent the past few days in Arizona for talks with the city. "The linchpin date is April 11," Allen said. "That's when a memorandum of understanding needs to be in place." Allen is bound by a confidentiality agreement regarding the negotiations, but indicated a positive development. On Thursday night, the Goodyear city council approved that its staff could continue to move forward with the negotiations. "We're still talking. That's certainly a good thing," Allen said.
The Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority funded several Cactus League projects, including the one for the Indians. However, it has previously indicated there is no more money to subsidize the project for a second team in Goodyear. It means the city has to come up with the additional funding.All indications are that if Goodyear can secure the $32 million, the Reds would be willing to move. With the exception of a three-year period during World War II, the Reds have trained in Florida since 1923. The club has called Sarasota its spring home since 1998, but its lease there expires in October. It carries three one-year options that can extend the stay. Sarasota's County Commission recently approved $17.6 million in funding renovations of Ed Smith Stadium, but it came only after several months of delays in approval and the Reds had already entered an exclusivity agreement with Goodyear. The Reds would still have to contribute up to $10 million to make the fall-back Sarasota plan work. Allen already toured the Goodyear complex with Reds owner and CEO Bob Castellini in January and has taken another look this week. "It's coming right along," Allen said. "I've driven by. It's progressing. You can tell what it's going to be."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.