Tucson Charities Lose Game But Still Win

When the Arizona Diamondbacks began in 1998 they opened a new Spring Training facility in Tucson. Tucson Electric Park was built to accommodate both the Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. Adding these two teams brought the total of teams training in Tucson to three.

Prior to the 2008 season the Chicago White Sox negotiated with Pima County to break their lease to allow them to move to a new state-of-the-art facility in Glendale Arizona with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This well documented decision led to the downfall of baseball in Tucson.

With the White Sox now gone the Colorado Rockies exercised a clause in their lease that allowed them to void their lease at Hi-Corbett Field. The loss of Colorado left just the Arizona Diamondbacks as the sole team in Tucson. They likewise exercised an escape clause allowing them to move to Scottsdale with the Rockies in 2011.

Perhaps lesser known is the agreement that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox had with Pima County to stage one game each Spring Training with the proceeds going to local charities.

The teams each committed to this and subsequently combined to stage a game between the White Sox and the Diamondbacks to satisfy this obligation. Even though the White Sox had moved to Glendale, they still adhered to this agreement travelling to Tucson for the charity game during the 2009 Cactus League.

With the Diamondbacks scheduled to leave Tucson after this Spring Training and the full schedule of the Cactus League, it became evident that the two teams would have a difficulty fulfilling their obligation to Pima County.

As a result, the teams have proposed not holding the charity game and have committed to donate money directly to the Tucson charities.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf notified Pima County officials. Instead of playing the game, the teams will donate $50,000. This amount is nearly double what was collected from last year’s game which gathered $29,000.

Pima County officials will meet this week to decide whether to accept the offer from the White Sox and Diamondbacks. Given the economic times and the amount offered it is difficult to imagine the county not taking this generous offer.

In the end, the county will lose a baseball game but will come out a winner. Rarely does that happen especially in today’s environment.



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