Brewers nearing Maryvale extension

The Brewers and the City of Phoenix have reached a preliminary agreement for a 10-year extension of the team’s Spring Training lease at Maryvale Baseball Park, a compromise that calls for an initial round of capital improvements but gives the Brewers flexibility to revisit the arrangement annually beginning in 2015.

The agreement still must make its way through the political process. A policy session is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in which Phoenix City Council members will discuss Ordinance S-38656, an amendment to the Brewers’ facility use agreement. It would authorize the City Manager to extend the lease through 2023 and contract with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Association for $1.5 million in renovations and expansions for the Major League clubhouse and the Minor League building at Maryvale, the Brewers spring home since 1998. The original, 15-year lease is about to expire.

Only the first two years of the amended lease would be guaranteed. Beginning in 2015, the team may choose to terminate the agreement if it notifies the city by April 15th of the year prior.

Brewers executive vice president of finance and administration Bob Quinn confirmed the preliminary agreement. He was meeting Friday with Phoenix city officials during the Brewers-Dodgers game in neighboring Glendale, Ariz.

Quinn characterized the deal as, “a short-term extension combined with long-term possibilities.”

According to a meeting agenda posted on the City of Phoenix website, the agreement is contingent upon the Arizona Sports and Tourism Association (AzSTA) agreeing to repay the city $1 million of the $1.5 million investment. Should the AzSTA disapprove, the Brewers would have until May 31 to either exercise the first of three, two-year extensions built into the original Maryvale lease, or notify the city it intended to leave.

City officials estimate that the lease extension would create or retain 16 jobs in Phoenix.

Quinn has said this spring that the Brewers were keeping all options on the table for their future Spring Training home, including sites both in Arizona and Florida. The Brewers have been recently linked to an 80-acre site in Scottsdale, Ariz., near the intersection of the Loop 101 and Bell Rd.

The Brewers are satisfied with the main stadium at Maryvale Baseball Park but consider the training facilities cramped and outdated compared to recent Cactus League additions like Glendale’s Camelback Ranch, shared by the Dodgers and White Sox. The Brewers’ offices, clubhouse, weight room and athletic training facilities are too small, club officials say. The weight room is particularly tight, forcing players to work out in shifts and use an adjacent hallway for some drills.

The $1.5 million would go fast, Quinn said, because the improvements would require major structural changes to the main buildings on-site. The Brewers would seek additional funds before agreeing to stay past 2014.

Club officials also remain interested in the city’s long-term development plan for the Maryvale neighborhood, Quinn said.

“[The extension] would give us time to work to see what they can do in and around the complex,” Quinn said. “They would commit to making some improvements to the ballpark beginning next year, and we wanted to show our commitment back. This deal structure works for that.”

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