Spring training entities ink funding agreement to begin Scottsdale Stadium renovations

Scottsdale Stadium will undergo about $50 million in renovations beginning in April. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Scottsdale is on its way to begin renovations at the beloved downtown stadium, after a funding agreement for nearly $50.6 million was reached.

During a March 19 Scottsdale City Council meeting, elected officials unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the San Francisco Giants and the Scottsdale Charros requiring binding capital financial commitments to Phase 1 of the Scottsdale Stadium renovation project.

In addition, $22.8 million for a construction contract with Hunt Construction Group, Inc. was approved, while the total cost of both portions of Phase 1 is estimated to be $50.6 million. The city’s portion of the Phase 1 improvements — $35 million — will come from bed tax dollars and municipal property corporation debt supported by annual bed tax allocation.

Scottsdale Stadium, which opened in 1956, is the only Cactus League venue part of a downtown setting, at 7408 E. Osborn Road. In 1992, it underwent a complete rebuild and was last renovated in 2005.

The stadium is mainly utilized in the spring and fall for baseball games.

Scottsdale Stadium is in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale and home to the San Francisco Giants during Spring Training. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The Giants have called Scottsdale Stadium their home for spring training for several years, while the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League utilize the facility in the latter part of the year, including the championship game at the end of November.

Prior to the Giants moving in, other Major League Baseball teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s used the stadium over the past 60-plus years.

The city is moving forward with a series of renovations that will address several areas within a 2018 master plan, such as improved seating and shade; additional viewing areas; and expansions to the clubhouse, player training areas and special events areas.

The stadium seats 12,000 for baseball games, but plans include making the space available for more year-round events and uses, officials say.

Master planning discussions began in 2015, and throughout 2018 a series of design process and contracts were authorized and approved to begin planning the renovations.

“We had some discussions with the Giants in 2015 about looking at a master plan for both the stadium and operations for player development expansion, which they saw coming, so in 2015 we had those discussions,” Community Development Director Bill Murphy said in his presentation to council.

“During that time part of what we were looking for was the multi-use facility. Obviously, the baseball improvements were essential to us to meet the growing demands the Giants had mentioned to us, but we also wanted to address some fan amenities we had heard about, as well as what the Giants hear about.”

San Francisco Giants national championships don Scottsdale Stadium. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The nitty-gritty

In total, the City Council approved four items to move forward with Phase 1 of the stadium renovation project:

  • A resolution authorizing the memorandum of understanding between the three entities, committing each party to specific funding commitments;
  • A resolution authorizing Design-Build Manager Construction Phase Services contract with Hunt Construction Group, Inc. for $22,853,327 for guaranteed maximum price 1 of Phase 1;
  • A resolution authorizing a fiscal year 2018-19 budget appropriate transfer totaling $23.4 million from the additional available budget appropriation in the adopted FY 2018-19 Capital Improvement Plan to the Scottsdale Stadium Renovations capital project; and
  • Approve a one-time waiver of Financial Policy 21A, which limits the use of tourism development funds to fund debt service for capital projects to $600,000 per commitment.

The Design-Build Manager Construction Services Contract with Hunt Construction Group is for services specified to begin construction improvements. In order to fund the construction contract and cover additional contract administration costs for the start of construction, the $23.4 million budget transfer is required.

The proposed Phase 1 renovations will build the highest priority improvements identified in the master plan, a city staff report states. The project will begin in April 2019, with completion scheduled prior to the 2020 spring training season.

The primary elements of Phase 1 are the construction of a new multi-story, multi-use facility that will serve as clubhouse for the spring training season and a multi-use event center throughout the year; shade improvements to the right field Charros Lodge area; upgrades to the main entry plaza adjacent to Drinkwater Boulevard; and enhanced press box facilities.

This construction services contract is the first of two financial awards that will be necessary to complete Phase 1 improvements. The total Phase 1 project cost, including both funding awards, is estimated at $50.6 million, the city staff report stated.

The memorandum of understanding commits the three partners to:

  • San Francisco Giants: $15.125 million — consisting of $2.5 million payment in 2019, a second $2.5 million payment in 2020 and the balance of $10.125 million coming in yearly payments beginning in 2020 through 2039.
  • City of Scottsdale: Up to $35 million — including $5 million of funding from the Tourism Development Fund previously approved to support project design, another $5 million in bed tax carry-over funds and $24.3 million funded with Municipal Property Corporation debt supported by an annual bed tax allocation.
  • Scottsdale Charros: $2.7 million — this will be provided with 20 yearly payments including principal and interest beginning in 2019.

Negotiations for a new 25-year Baseball Facilities Agreement between the three parties is expected to be complete soon, the staff report stated, prior to the second portion of Phase 1 being requested. The new agreement would extend the relationship between the Giants, Charros and city guaranteeing the Charros will host the Giants for spring training at Scottsdale Stadium through at least 2044.

Additional funding from Arizona Sports Service will be addressed through a separate set of agreements with the Giants and the city, the staff report stated. The capital funding commitment is projected to be a minimum of $2.5 million for Phase 1, and a minimum of another $2.5 million for Phase 2. Those agreements are expected to be completed prior to the second guaranteed maximum price contract for Phase 1.

As for Phase 2, city officials say once Phase 1 is underway, the city and the Giants will revisit these plans and develop options and proposals for future Phase 2 improvements. Phase 2 consists of primarily of an extended deck area off the left field berm, expanded shade and other fan amenities.

Scottsdale Stadium in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library)

‘A point of pride’

Three members of the public spoke in support of the renovation project prior to the City Council vote.

Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President, and Town of Paradise Valley Councilman, Mark Stanton first described the economic engine that Scottsdale Stadium is for the community.

Mark Stanton

“This type of program, this type of renovation is a catalyst for economic development,” said Mr. Stanton, a longtime member of the Charros.

“It is a revitalization for the future of downtown, and it creates a quality of life initiative for the residents and importantly, the business community.”

Mr. Stanton asked the City Council to consider the legacy of spring training with the Charros and the Giants, which has built a tourism attraction.

“We hope you take into account the legacy of spring training with the Charros and the Giants, and the city, has built a wonderful business attraction, effort, and tourism effort, which has really resulted in an incredible support for not only education initiatives, but also nonprofit groups that have received almost $16 million in support over the years from the efforts raised between that partnership with the Giants, the Charros and the city,” he said.

“I think you see an unbelievable team that will help you build on the future of spring training, which we know is an economic catalyst for so many initiatives for our community.”

Second, Scottsdale Charros Executive Director, and former Scottsdale City Councilman, Dennis Robbins illustrated the role the stadium plays in the community. Through spring training, the Charros reinvest their profits back into the community through different organizations, including the Scottsdale Unified School District.

“Scottsdale Stadium is very important to our community, it has been a symbol of our community since it was built,” Mr. Robbins said during his public comment. “It began when we were just a small town, the field was literally carved out of the corner of a local farm. The stands and the press box and fences were all made of wood.”

Dennis Robbins

At that time, the stadium was surrounded by the Boys & Girls Club, the rodeo, city pool, library and the only hospital in town, Mr. Robbins explained. As the times changed, so did the city and stadium, and expansion and renovations started being envisioned in the late 1980s. By 1992, the stadium was brand new, and additional upgrades took place in 2005.

“Now, we come together again to renovate and upgrade a tremendous point of pride for our citizens. Our stadium remains an anchor in our downtown, it is still next to City Hall, our library, our center for arts and culture; a state-of-the-art level 1 trauma center and hospital is still across the street,” Mr. Robbins said. “Scottsdale Stadium remains a point of pride and representation of why we call Scottsdale our home town.”

The Charros are especially excited for the multi-use facility planned for the stadium, Mr. Robbins said, calling the 10,000-square-foot room a “game changer” for Old Town Scottsdale.

Scottsdale resident Alex McLaren voiced his support for the renovation project as well, noting he lives right down the street from stadium.

Alex McLaren

“I see the fans going past our house, down Osborn Road, to the stadium every March and it is so exciting,” Mr. McLaren said. “I am totally thrilled it is going to be happening.”

Minimal discussion was had by the City Council prior to their unanimous approval. Councilman Guy Phillips commented about the stadium being a fourth tier to major city projects he’s been proud to support, including WestWorld of Scottsdale, TPC Scottsdale and Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

“This is a family, the Giants and Charros to us are a family in Scottsdale. The ballpark has been here forever — everyone looks forward to it every year — it’s such a great part of our city. This is an exciting evening for me,” Mr. Phillips said.

More than 210 letters from local business and community leaders were submitted to the city in support of the stadium renovation project. Independent Newsmedia Managing Editor Terrance Thornton penned one of the letters included.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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