The Mesa City Council took steps today to pay off the remaining debt on its two Spring Training facilities — Sloan Park and Hohokam Stadium — ahead of schedule which will save the city millions of dollars in interest payments. With the completion of the sale of City-owned land in Pinal County, City Manager Chris Brady recommended council action that will set aside $54 million to retire the obligation bonds.
“Very few communities can say that they have paid off their stadiums and even fewer in just five years. Now, every dollar generated by Spring Training goes directly to the City,” Mayor John Giles said. “Thank you to the 2010 Mesa City Council who had the foresight to set this innovative plan in motion.”
In April 2013, the City issued $94 million of excise tax revenue obligations to finance the construction of Chicago Cubs Sloan Park and the renovation of Hohokam Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Oakland Athletics. When issuance of the bonds was authorized, revenue from the sale of Pinal County land owned by the City for its now-obsolete water rights was identified as the funding source to repay the obligations.
“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the City of Mesa and appreciate their support in the development of Sloan Park and Wrigleyville West,” Chicago Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said. “This public-private partnership not only created the finest and most popular spring training facility in Major League Baseball, it created jobs, increased tourism, helped local businesses and supported the community.”
“We are excited to hear about the City of Mesa’s strategic move to pay off the debt associated with the transformation of Hohokam Stadium and Fitch Park,” Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval said, “These improvements helped bring the A’s back to Mesa where we trained in the 1970s and won three consecutive World Series championships. We congratulate our partners, friends and all the fans on this important accomplishment.”
Roughly half of the bond debt ($45 million) was eligible to be paid off early in July 2017 and was done so shortly thereafter utilizing proceeds from the initial sale of a portion of Pinal County land. The remaining principal ($49 million) will be removed from the City’s outstanding debt obligation.