Scottsdale baseball museum plan would cost Mesa The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Scottsdale baseball museum plan would cost Mesa

Scottsdale baseball museum plan would cost Mesa
City News
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By Wayne Schutsky, Tribune Staff Writer

Scottsdale is taking another swing at bringing a baseball-themed tourist attraction to Scottsdale Stadium after a previous attempt in 2019 fell flat – threatening Mesa’s long-held ambition to have one.

Last August, Scottsdale issued a request for proposal for a partner to lease city land behind the left-field wall at Scottsdale Stadium to build a baseball-themed visitor experience with an eye towards the history of the game in Arizona.

Scottsdale officials sought a partner to fully fund the construction and operation of the new facility and pay rent and portions of shared revenues back to the city.  

The city received only one response to the RFP from HOME: The Baseball Experience, senior assistant city attorney Eric Anderson said.

HOME: The Baseball Experience is a still developing technology-based baseball project and could incorporate items like virtual reality and focus on the role of analytics in baseball, according to Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily.

The HOME proposal was considered non-responsive – meaning it did not meet all city requirements, Assistant City Manager Bill Murphy said.

Murphy did not elaborate on what requirements HOME failed to meet.

Anderson declined to provide the HOME proposal, citing language in the original RFP stipulating the proposals would be kept private until the contract was awarded.

Despite the setback, the city still has plans to bring a “baseball experience” venue to Scottsdale Stadium.

On Feb. 7, it issued a request for qualifications once again, seeking a development partner for the land to create “a modern, first-class facility offering a visitor experience celebrating baseball (including the history of professional baseball, the role of baseball in the Valley of the Sun).” 

The city has a long list of requirements for a potential suitor and respondents are required to submit proof of financial backing and organizational structure to follow through on their plans.

The city seeks proposals for “a modern, first-class facility offering a visitor experience celebrating baseball” it includes a nod to the sport’s history in Arizona and interactive exhibits for visitors.

The project would be located on a piece of city property sitting between the stadium and the Civic Center parking garage along Drinkwater Boulevard.

City staff said it is anticipating signing a 25-year lease for the land, similar to the length of the city’s deal with the San Francisco Giants at the stadium.

Scottsdale Public Works Executive Director Dan Worth said the city would look for market-rate rent for the property, citing local and state gift bans, but it is open to discussions on the lease rate take into account shared revenues generated by admissions.

The city expects to realize money from rent, shared revenues and increased tourism that could result in sales and bed tax boosts.

The new baseball experience facility would also integrate with Scottsdale Stadium and the city will discuss sharing the costs of maintenance for shared-use areas.

A city informational session on the new RFQ on Feb. 7 drew significant interest from construction companies and others with ties to Major League Baseball. 

That included Marc Appleman, former CEO of baseball analytics firm SABR, which has close ties with Major League Baseball.

Appleman is CEO of Home: The Baseball Experience, according to his Linkedin profile.

Appleman declined to speak at length regarding the new RFQ, only stating that he is still interested in the project and is working with a different group.

The meeting also included representatives from a number of regional construction, development and architecture firms, including Marc Taylor Inc., Waltz Construction, DPR Construction and Dig Studio.

One party notably absent from the meeting was The Arizona Spring Training Experience, the Valley’s most prominent existing Spring Training museum.

The Arizona Spring Training Experience is supported by the Mesa Historical Museum and has displayed temporary exhibits at Scottsdale’s Civic Center library in the past and held its Cactus League Hall of Fame inductions in Scottsdale.

Last August, Leon Natker, executive director of Mesa Historical Museum, said his organization had no plans to respond to the Scottsdale’s RFP, because it does not have the financial resources to meet the city’s requirements and previous partnerships had been a financial burden on the Mesa Museum.

Still, at the time, Natker did not rule out working with whichever party the city ultimately partners with.

“If there’s a donor out there or an entity that wants to we’d love to participate,” Natker said.

Scottsdale should know by the end of the summer whether or not any entity is willing to fulfill its lengthy wish list.

An evaluation committee put together by the city will vet all responses to the RFQ.

The deadline for the RFQ is March 31, and the city plans to negotiate with the recommended submitter in June and July with the intention of bringing a proposed agreement and lease before the City Council by the end of August.

According to a presentation given to prospective respondents, the city expects the facility to be complete by Jan. 1, 2023.

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