D-Backs pick E.V. site for spring training - East Valley Tribune: News

D-Backs pick E.V. site for spring training

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Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009 9:53 am | Updated: 2:48 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Cactus League, its geographic balance shifting westward in recent years, soon will add two teams to the East Valley's side of the scales. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced Thursday it plans to build a spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.

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The Cactus League, its geographic balance shifting westward in recent years, soon will add two teams to the East Valley's side of the scales.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced Thursday it plans to build a spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, both of whom currently conduct preseason workouts in Tucson.

Click on the map for a larger view

Spring 2011 is the scheduled opening for an 11,000-seat stadium, 12 practice fields and office buildings near the intersection of Loop 101 and Indian Bend Road. According to reservation officials, this will be the first spring training facility to be constructed on Indian land.

"We are certainly excited that we have come to an agreement on our future spring training home with a wonderful community," Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall said. "We have had several interested parties and sites but ultimately found this site to be superb."

The Diamondbacks have held spring training operations at Tucson Electric Park since the team's inception in 1998, sharing the facility with the Chicago White Sox until 2008.

The Rockies have trained at Tucson's aging Hi Corbett Field since their inception in 1993.

In recent years, West Valley communities have been building facilities to lure teams away from Florida's Grapefruit League. When the Cincinnati Reds join their fellow Ohioans, the Cleveland Indians, in Goodyear for the 2010 exhibition season, the West Valley will have nine teams to the East Valley's four and Tucson's two.

"Over on the West side, the saturation level was a little high," Cactus League president Robert Brinton said.

But in two years, the Diamondbacks and Rockies will join the Chicago Cubs (Mesa), Los Angeles Angels (Tempe), Oakland Athletics (Phoenix) and San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale).

It's a good location," Brinton said. "It'll work well for both teams, and for the league as a whole."

What wasn't working was spring baseball in Tucson. Players didn't like the three-hour bus ride, so fans didn't get to see all the stars when a team from the north traveled south and vice versa.

This past year, the White Sox left Tucson for the new Camelback Ranch at Glendale facility. They share the campus with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had moved from Vero Beach, Fla.

Spring training has been held in Tucson since the 1940s, but Brinton said the move north is simply evolution.

"Spring training's always been about player conditioning," Brinton said. "But over the last 20 years, the biggest change has been it's now equally about sponsor conditioning and fan conditioning."

Salt River Pima-Maricopa spokesman Levi Long said the 140-acre site at the Indian Bend/101 location was selected, in part, to drive development.

On New Year's Eve this year, the 497-room Talking Stick Resort opens on land just east of that intersection. Also, the Scottsdale Pavilions shopping center is to the west of the freeway.

Helping with the community's proposal to the teams was a reservation-wide vote earlier this year that allows the sale of alcohol in the Loop 101 commercial corridor.

"All the pieces fell into place at the right time," Long said. "If what we're looking for is the fan experience, I think that's an important component."

Hired to design the facility is HKS Architects, the firm responsible for Camelback Ranch and the new stadium of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

The community and teams plan to hold a press conference next week, at which more details will be announced.

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