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The Cubs hope to thank you for donating to their new spring home

February 6, 2010 | 10:22 am

The Cubs are the flagship franchise of the Cactus League, the runaway attendance leaders year after year. After the Cubs noticed all the shiny new ballparks built to lure such teams as the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals from Florida, the Cubs started negotiating to move to Florida.

Cubs-logo2 That worked nicely. The Arizona city of Mesa, the spring home of the Cubs since 1979, agreed last week to replace rickety HoHoKam Park with a new complex estimated to cost $119 million. The state of Arizona has generously funded the construction of the new generation of Cactus League ballparks primarily through a tax on rental cars -- that is, a tourist tax.

With most of those funds exhausted, officials hope to raise some of the money for the Cubs' ballpark with a ticket surcharge on every Cactus League game. For example, if you bought a ticket to watch the Dodgers play in Glendale or the Angels play in Tempe, you might pay an extra $1 to help the Cubs get their new ballpark in Mesa.

Derrick Hall, the president of the Arizona Diamondbacks, told the Arizona Republic that every Cactus League team not named the Cubs dislikes the plan.

"It's really a Catch-22 because we would love for the Cubs to stay --  just not at the expense of our fans," Hall said. "The other 13 teams in the Cactus League feel the same way."

The Cubs didn't fire back in the article. You wonder, however, whether they feel as the Yankees often say they do: Our team packs your ballpark, and that makes you lots of money, so stop complaining about us.

In the Dodgers' inaugural season at Camelback Ranch last spring, for instance, what team drew the most fans? The Cubs, of course -- on a Tuesday, no less. The Dodgers this spring have assessed a surcharge of $2, $4 or $5 on all Camelback Ranch tickets for premier games, defined on the Dodgers' website thusly: "Premier games are all games against the Cubs."

The Chicago White Sox share Camelback Ranch with the Dodgers, and the White Sox also charge more for games against the Cubs.

The White Sox had an agreement to hold spring training in Tucson through 2012, but the team left for Camelback Ranch last year, after agreeing to pay Tucson $5 million. So when White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf publicly opposed the Cubs ticket tax, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith shot back.

"Is this the same Jerry Reinsdorf that skipped out on Pima County taxpayers who had spent tens of millions of dollars to provide him with a taxpayer-funded stadium," Smith said, "to come to Glendale, where Maricopa County taxpayers provided him a Taj Mahal spring-training facility?"

-- Bill Shaikin

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