September 20, 2004
Scottsdale has changed course in its hunt to find a new spring training home for the San Francisco Giants.
A majority of City Council members favor an early plan that would put the $18 million professional baseball facility at a city-owned site east of Scottsdale Stadium on Osborn Road and Drinkwater Boulevard.
That would be good news for golfers and homeowners who live near Coronado Golf Course — the city’s oldest and most affordable public links.
The city originally decided it would raze the course for the training complex, but that idea met fierce opposition from neighbors, sending planners back to the drawing board to research alternatives.
“Frankly, it would be a real class act,” Councilman Kevin Osterman said of the plans near the stadium. “It has all of the |elements. The most important element is that it is exactly where the Giants want to be.”
The city staff has shared plans with several council members, but refused a Tribune public records request asking for release of the plans. City spokesman Pat Dodds said the designs are too preliminary for public release.
Eldorado Park is also a possible location for the team. But that plan would displace three softball fields and require flood-control and excavation work, several council members said.
“The city staff is moving in the right direction and, so far, I am pleased and anxiously awaiting the end result,” said Councilman Bob Littlefield. “Certainly, my preference is that it not be at Coronado. Quite frankly, I’m not too keen at tearing up Eldorado Park, either.”
Other council members said they, too, don’t like the idea of shutting down the golf course. Councilwoman Betty Drake, who has not yet seen the updated stadium plans, called the Coronado plan a bad idea.
Giants executives have told Scottsdale the team would relocate in 2007 — when its contract expires — unless it gets upgraded facilities.
The new spring training complex would include two full-size playing fields, a clubhouse, an observation tower, a practice infield, batting tunnels and other structures that would be used primarily by the Giants organization.
The city is tentatively scheduled to unveil the new alternatives at a Sept. 28 study session at City Hall. No formal decisions would be made at the meeting.
The expanded stadium plan would require closing 75th Street south of Second Street to accommodate the playing fields. City-owned buildings along 75th Street would be replaced to accommodate other Giants facilities and stadium
The city might also have to purchase one privately owned lot near the stadium, but officials did not give specifics about the private property. In addition, the city may have to secure federal clearance to build there because part of the site is in an EPA Superfund environmental cleanup area.
“I hope we will find a way to be able to get it near the stadium in some respectable manner,” Councilman Jim Lane said recently, adding he’d like to avoid the legal and neighborhood battles expected from the Coronado site plan.
A businessman and philanthropist who donated the land for Coronado filed a legal claim in May, saying deed restrictions he placed on the land at Miller and Thomas roads during the 1970s prohibit the city from building structures there.
Cliff Whittle, a Coronado golf professional, said he also has heard the city was leaning toward the stadium site.
“Everyone has been encouraged about what they are hearing,” said Whittle, who has been at Coronado for 16 years.