Pima County officials have tentatively approved a plan that would create a regional sports authority to finance baseball spring training facilities in the Tucson area.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, the Colorado Rockies, and the Chicago White Sox currently train in Tucson. The White Sox plan to leave for a new facility in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale in 2009 and the Rockies are asking for stadium upgrades that could cost up to $20 million.

The county’s existing stadium district is supported by a hotel tax and a surcharge on car rentals in the county. It does not have sufficient revenues to fund major renovations or new facilities.

County administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the sports authority could be supported by taxes on tourism-related activities, but declined to cite specific sources until he discusses the situation with business leaders.

County supervisors will vote on creating an interim sports authority at a meeting on April 1, but the Arizona Legislature would have to authorize creation of the district and specify the revenue sources. The district would then have to be approved by county voters.

The proposed district could support bonds to finance stadium and training facility projects with up to 75% of its revenues, with 25% of revenues dedicated to youth sports programs and facilities.

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