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Mesa Pays Off Spring Training Stadium Debt Early

A decade ago Mesa risked losing Chicago Cubs spring training to Florida.

On Monday, Mesa’s City Council voted to pay off the debt incurred from renovating one stadium and building another more than a decade ahead of schedule, saving an estimated $22 million.

“It really is something very noteworthy for a city to own free and clear a stadium, let alone two stadiums, and do that ahead of schedule and do that in a way that saves a tremendous amount of taxpayer money,” Mayor John Giles said.

In 2013, Mesa issued $94 million in bonds to renovate Hohokam Stadium, where the Oakland A’s play, and build Sloan Park.

Arizona’s Legislature rejected an earlier plan to pay for the improvements with a regional tax.  

Mesa turned to real estate.

“Many years ago in the mid-'80s, the city had purchased over 11,000 acres of Pinal County farm land and, during that time, we held onto it with the idea that we could use it for water rights,” City Manager Chris Brady said. “That never happened.”

The city struck a multiyear deal to sell the land to Pinal Landholdings LLC and netted $109 million for the sale and $25 million for a lease.

Mesa received the last payment in June.

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.