Cincinnati is a free agent, and the Cactus League appears a probable landing site, perhaps as early as 2009.
The Reds are actively seeking a new spring training headquarters after voters in Sarasota, Fla., rejected a $16 million tax package Nov. 6 to pay for improvements to Ed Smith Field.
Cincinnati already has been contacted by several cities that it did not wish to name in Arizona and Florida expressing interest, and among the factors could be Arizona’s link with Reds owner Robert Castellini, a part-owner of a luxury hotel in the Valley.
Meanwhile, Colorado is in negotiations with Goodyear about a possible relocation from Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star reported, a move that could cripple spring training in Tucson.
“We are looking outside Sarasota. That’s a fact,” Cincinnati official Rob Butcher said Tuesday.
“We would always want any new teams we could get to come to Arizona,” D-Backs managing partner Ken Kendrick said.
“We’d love to have the Reds here. It would help if they were interested in going to Tucson.”
The Reds can leave Sarasota after the 2008 season, and Tucson appears to be the most logical candidate if they were to choose Arizona, although cities such as Goodyear, Surprise and Casa Grande are certain to be interested.
Tucson has been home to the D-Backs, Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox since 1998, but the White Sox have announced plans to move to Glendale in 2009 to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are leaving Vero Beach, Fla., that year.
The White Sox cannot get out of their lease with Pima County that expires in 2012 unless they supply a replacement team, which brings Cincinnati into play.
“I’m guessing the White Sox are probably in touch with the Cincinnati Reds,” Cactus League president J.P. de la Montaigne said.
“If they (Reds) were interested, it would seem like a good move.”
If the White Sox or Colorado leave Tucson without supplying a replacement, the remaining two teams can cancel their leases and look elsewhere.
It is unclear, the Star said, how serious Colorado’s negotiations with Goodyear are.
The D-Backs said last spring that they would consider relocation if only two teams remained in Tucson.
Cleveland plans to return to Arizona from Florida in 2009, when Goodyear will have a new facility ready.
The drawback for any new movement into the Valley is the lack of state funding.
Goodyear and Glendale are scheduled to receive money from car rental and hotel taxes through the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, but their projects leave nothing for others.
“There is no more funding available in Phoenix through the Sports and Tourism Authority,” de la Montaigne said. “I don’t know if anyone (cities) would have the money” to add another team.
Cincinnati has three one-year options to stay in Sarasota, in case a new facility is not ready until after 2009.
Vero Beach and Winter Haven, which will lose the Dodgers and Cleveland, also could try to lure the Reds.