Correspondence dating back to March of 2016 show the Major League Baseball club has explored options for training minor league players outside of its current Scottsdale training facility.
The San Francisco Giants could move their year-round training operations from Scottsdale to Phoenix, according to written correspondence between city officials.
A March 7, 2016 letter from Scottsdale to Phoenix city officials opened the door to explore the Giants’ use of the training fields near Phoenix Municipal Stadium on the Scottsdale-Phoenix border as a new training facility.
Even if the Giants take over the Phoenix facility, the ball club’s spring training presence will remain rooted at Scottsdale Stadium, where the team has played since 1984.
The possible move would only impact year-round development of minor league players, who train outside the Cactus League season in March, and Giants players here for rehab from injuries. Currently, the Giants use the Indian School Minor League Complex in Scottsdale for these purposes.
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said the team will continue playing at Scottsdale Stadium, where they’re under contract until 2025. This potential agreement could help address training needs that couldn’t easily be met at the Indian School complex.
If an agreement moves forward, it’s unclear who would pay to lease the training fields from Phoenix: the team or Scottsdale.
“They’re delighted to be here and they want to stay here,” Lane said. “We’re just trying to be good landlords, as it is.”
Why leave the current training facilities?
The Scottsdale Indian School training complex has a linear layout with four diamonds lined up in a row, Lane said.
He said team managers have come to prefer a “clover-leaf” layout, where the four diamonds are clustered around a central circle. This design lets coaches sit in the middle and observe all their players, and it lets fans simultaneously watch players on all four diamonds.
“The configuration (at the Papago facility) is a better configuration for a training field than we currently have now,” Lane said.
Rather than do a complete overhaul of the facility, Scottsdale leaders reached out to Phoenix to talk about use of the training fields around Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The stadium and training fields were used by the Oakland A’s until they moved to Mesa in 2015. The Arizona State University Sun Devils currently play their games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, although they don’t use the training fields.
Scottsdale already has an agreement with Phoenix that allows the Giants to use the training fields in cases of emergency. The 2016 letter opened the door for the cities to talk about a more permanent arrangement.
“I would love to put that in use,” Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said. “It’s a good facility for them, it fits well. It’s designed for professional baseball.”
However, nothing is firm.
Although leaders in both cities confirmed discussions, Giants officials would not comment on any such talks.
“We are engaged with Scottsdale and we are committed to them,” Sara Hunt, Giants VP of event strategy and services, said. “We’re just evaluating our stadium options for our minor-league teams.”
While moving the team’s year-round training operations would not affect spring training, it would affect where minor-league players train and play some of their games. It would also affect major-league players using the facilities to recover from injuries.
“Players are in there, even during the off-season, working out and doing their conditioning,” said Alan Lee, senior director of Arizona baseball operations for the Giants. “It’s the hub as well for any players who are injured during the season. They’ll come down here in Scottsdale and do their physical therapy … and get ready to go back to their team.”
In addition to training, the Giants’ minor-league affiliates play an extended spring training season, as well as a fall instructional league. The home games in the extended spring training season and fall instructional program are played at the training facility, while the Arizona League for rookies is moved over to Scottsdale Stadium.
How serious are the talks?
The discussions, which were between Phoenix and Scottsdale, on behalf of the Giants, haven’t brought the deal to a close. However, DiCiccio said Phoenix has agreed not to bring on any new tenants until fall 2018.
“Right now, we’re waiting to hear back from them,” DiCiccio said. “They’ve asked us not to rent it out on a long-term lease until the fall of next year.”
Gregg Bach, a spokesman for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, said the talks haven’t been negotiated, though the 2016 letter provided an opportunity for them. Any further negotiations are dependent on Scottsdale.
Should the Giants acquire the facility and want to make renovations to it, that would have to be at their own expense or Scottsdale’s expense, DiCiccio said.
“We’ve outlined the terms for them and they’re beyond favorable, but we’re not going to put any taxpayer money into it,” he said.
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