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01/11/12 10:00 PM EST
A's in talks to move spring camp to Mesa
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- There was no movement regarding a possible A's relocation from Oakland to San Jose on Wednesday, the first day of the Owners Meetings, despite a flurry of discussions. But the A's may shift their Spring Training venue from Phoenix to Mesa, Ariz., in 2015, said Lew Wolff, the team's managing partner.
Wolff and A's president Mike Crowley met with Mesa City Manager Christopher Brady on Wednesday morning to discuss the possible move to HoHoKam Stadium, long the home of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are moving to a new facility in Mesa after the 2014 spring season.
"We're preparing a draft lease for them and they're going to look at it," Wolff told reporters. "We're going to do a lot of remodeling of the ballpark."
The original wood-framed HoHoKam was demolished and replaced in 1996. It is now metal and stucco, has two adjacent fields and a practice facility at nearby Fitch Park. The A's have been playing at aging Phoenix Municipal Stadium for 31 years and also have a practice facility about two miles away at Papago Park.
The A's have been negotiating with Phoenix city officials about improvements in both facilities for the last couple of years. Two months ago, Wolff said he was told that those renovations wouldn't be happening.
"They were very cooperative, but they don't have the funds to do it," Wolff said.
About HoHoKam, Wolff said the current discussions call for between $10 million to $15 million in improvements, with the city of Mesa funding about 60 percent of that figure and the A's footing about 40 percent of the bill.
"It's in very good shape," Wolff said. "It's in better shape than what we have now. But we need to do some changes in the structure and the field."
On Election Day of 2010, Mesa voters approved spending $84 million on a new combined stadium and practice field complex to keep the Cubs in Arizona. They had threatened under the new ownership of the Ricketts family to move across the country to Naples, Fla.
As far as the ongoing discussion about the A's moving to a new ballpark in San Jose, Wolff declined to comment. Wolff asked Major League Baseball in 2008 for permission to move from Oakland 35 miles south to San Jose, and Commissioner Bud Selig put together a three-person committee to review the A's relocation options inside and outside the Bay Area. The San Francisco Giants have blocked a possible move to San Jose, stating that Santa Clara County is part of their territory.
That panel of consultants -- Corey Bush, Irwin Raij and Bob Starkey -- was at the meetings on Wednesday and addressed Selig and the executive council.
"They made a presentation and we listened," Selig said after the late afternoon meeting, "but there's nothing new to report."
Wolff had said near the end of this past year that he was hoping for a resolution of the matter as soon as possible.
"I hope it would come in February. I'd like it to come in December," he said at the time. "But there is no timetable. It's a decision that has to be made by the Commissioner."