ASU baseball seeking permission to move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium

January 31, 2013
The Arizona Republic
Jeff Metcalfe

Arizona State is seeking permission from the Arizona Board of Regents to move its baseball team to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

A proposed 25-year lease will be discussed by the Regents’ business and finance committee Feb.6, then forwarded to the board Feb.7.

If approved, ASU baseball is expected to begin playing at Phoenix Muni in the 2015 season after the Oakland Athletics move from there to Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. The Sun Devils would play two final seasons — 2013 and ’14 — at Packard Stadium, their home since 1974.

Oakland’s lease for spring training at Phoenix Muni expires at the end of 2014, and the A’s have reached a memorandum of understanding with the city of Mesa on a 20-year lease with possible extensions to play at Hohokam Stadium after the Chicago Cubs move to their new Riverview stadium.

ASU ended negotiations in November with the Cubs to share their new stadium starting in 2014. The Regents approved a proposed agreements with the Cubs in June, but those parties, even with assistance in negotiations from the Mesa officials, could not close a deal.

“Progress has been made with the city of Phoenix,” ASU Senior Associate Athletic director Rocky Harris said. “We’re confident that we’ll be able to move forward.”

In the proposed lease for Phoenix Muni, ASU will receive all revenue from tickets, net concessions and parking. Rent will kick in after ASU revenue reaches $1.1 million and, even with a 2.5 percent annual escalator, cannot exceed $300,000.

ASU will be responsible for maintenance and operating expenses and receive 50 percent of revenue generated from other existing events that utilize Phoenix Muni.

Current Phoenix Muni was built in 1964 — replacing the original stadium built in 1947 — and seats 8,000. It is located less than 3 miles from Packard Stadium, with a capacity of 4,000. The A’s have played at Phoenix Muni since 1982, and the stadium was home to the minor-league Phoenix Firebirds until 1992.

There was a $6.4 million renovation of Phoenix Muni after 2003 spring training. Tentative ASU plans for the stadium including a new video board and signage/branding that will bring the school’s legacy to its new home.

ASU has a history at Phoenix Muni, including district tournaments played there in 1965 and ’67, when the Sun Devils won and went on to capture the first two of their five College World Series titles. ASU also played some regular-season games at Phoenix Muni before Packard Stadium was built, including pitcher Gary Gentry’s famous 15-inning, complete-game Western Athletic Conference playoff win over Arizona in 1967.

ASU is choosing to move from Packard Stadium rather than renovate or rebuild it. The stadium is part of the ASU athletic facilities district — created to fund athletic capital projects, including a new Sun Devil Stadium — and that land on the corner of Rural Road and Rio Salado Parkway is valuable as a northeast entrance to the university.