Reds one step closer to Arizona
Goodyear city council votes April 7 on Reds spring funding
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- All that stands between the Reds holding Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., is a city council vote.On Wednesday, the city of Goodyear identified funding for the estimated $33 million it would take to bring the Reds to the desert town to share a spring complex with the Indians. The deadline to identify the money sources was Thursday. "We don't have a done deal yet but it's an important step," said John Allen, the former Reds chief operating officer, and the club's point man in the negotiations. "If they didn't come up with the funding by Thursday, we both could have walked away or try to find alternative funding." The Goodyear city council must now approve the measure. It plans to take up the issue at its April 7 session. A 75-day exclusive negotiating period between the city and club expires on April 11. The Reds have made it known that if the city funds the move, they will relocate from Florida. If the April 7 vote is positive, the franchise would leave Sarasota, Fla., in 2010 to join the Cactus League. "We're going to say yes, assuming the memorandum of understanding is on parity with the Indians deal," Allen said. "I've met with members of the council and I'm optimistic, but I don't have a vote." The exact breakdown of Goodyear's funding plan remains confidential while negotiations are ongoing. "They showed me the funding plan for the entire project -- for the Indians and a second team," Allen said. "It was certainly enough for us to move forward." Goodyear is already building a $75 million facility for the Indians. It will open in 2009 when the team moves its spring operations from Winter Haven, Fla. The additional $33 million would provide the Reds with their own clubhouse, offices and practice fields, as well as a Minor League complex, while the main stadium would be shared with the Indians. With the exception of a three-year period during World War II, the Reds have trained in Florida since 1923. The club has called Sarasota its spring home since 1998 but Cincinnati's lease with the city and county expires in October. The Reds hold three one-year options that can extend the stay. Sarasota's County Commission recently approved $17.6 million in funding renovations of Ed Smith Stadium. But this measure came only several months after delays in approval, and by that point the Reds had already entered into exclusive negotiations with Goodyear.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.