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Take Me Out of the Ballgame

In its glory days, Chandler’s Compadre Stadium was considered the “crown jewel” of Arizona’s Cactus League, hosting Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers from 1986 to 1997. The park was privately financed for $1.6 million. But when the Brewers asked Chandler to invest $14 million of public funds into the stadium and training site, the city said no.

For 17 years, Compadre Stadium has stood abandoned in Chandler on the southeast side of Phoenix. In 2014, the Chandler City Council approved plans to redevelop the site as an upscale housing development. The stadium has been demolished and construction of Echelon at Ocotillo has been launched.

Chandler converted the Milwaukee Brewers’ practice fields into a park known as Snedigar Sports Complex, complete with a recreation center, skate park, dog park, soccer and baseball fields.

In the late 1990s, Chandler was seeking to develop as a high-tech corridor and less of a bedroom community, city officials said. The city noticed very little uptick in sales tax revenues during Major League Baseball spring training. In the process of growing its tax base and managing its finances through the Great Recession, Chandler achieved triple-A ratings.

Intel Corp. bought cheap farmland in Chandler for the its microchip plant without city subsidies other than provisions for roads and other infrastructure, the city said. In 2011, Intel announced a major expansion of the $5 billion campus for its research and development facility.

After leaving Chandler, the Milwaukee Brewers began playing at Maryvale Baseball Park, built for the team in 1998 in Phoenix. According to local news reports, the Brewers are now soliciting an offer from the northwest suburb of Peoria for a new training facility.

Maryvale Baseball Park and spring training facility is an older section of Phoenix and surrounded by residential neighborhoods. If the Brewers leave Phoenix, the city will no longer host any Cactus League teams; the Oakland A’s are leaving their Phoenix training site for Mesa in 2015.

Threatened with the loss of the Chicago Cubs spring training, the Phoenix suburb of Mesa raised $101 million through a bond sale to build a new stadium and training site and to remodel Hohokam Stadium, where the Cubs had trained for several decades. The Oakland Athletics will begin playing at Hohokam in 2015.

The city of Glendale provided a tax pledge for $200 million of bonds to build the Camelback Ranch training facilities for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The city’s deep investment in professional sports has caused financial distress and a drop in credit ratings.

While shunning baseball and developing its reputation as a home for high tech, Chandler saw its credit ratings rise to triple-A as its population grew 38% to 240,101. Chandler’s high-tech city hall has won architectural awards and anchors a revitalized historic downtown.

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