Henninger: Supporting proposed Scottsdale Stadium upgrades can benefit all

It’s nearing March and we have heard the cry, “pitchers and catchers reporting,” the alert that tells us spring training baseball is about to begin.

Don Henninger

It’s a phrase reminiscent of “drivers, start your engines,” which opens the Indy 500 race every year and unleashes the energy and excitement that follows that event.

Spring training baseball also starts one of Scottsdale’s major economic engines. But it’s more than that. It’s part of the city’s DNA, much the same way the Indy 500 is part of the culture of Indianapolis.

In Scottsdale, the month of March is magical as visitors and residents alike flock to Old Town, opening their wallets as well as their eyes to what the city’s core has to offer year-round.

This March will be important for another reason as the City Council decides what to do about upgrading Scottsdale Stadium. It’s in need of renovations to accommodate the San Francisco Giants, who call it home during the spring. It also will be a chance to expand the capabilities of the stadium for multi-purpose uses other times of the year.

As part of the renovations, the city will need to extend the contract between the three partners that make March baseball happen: the city, the Giants and the Scottsdale Charros.

All three have a stake in the outcome and all three will need to invest in making it happen. While the details are worked out over the next few weeks, residents and city leaders should not take for granted the role the Charros play and the impact they deliver for the city.

The Charros, a non-profit group of business and civic volunteers, have hosted spring training baseball at Scottsdale Stadium since 1961, working with five major-league teams since then. During their partnership with the Giants alone, the Charros have been able to return $16 million to hundreds of local charities, with an emphasis on public education.

The three-way partnership clearly delivers huge benefits for the city. Some have called it the most effective public-private partnership in sports. It is one worth preserving.

The reality is the stadium needs the upgrades to the tune of $60 million or so. Much of that will come from the city’s tourism bed tax but the Giants and Charros are expected to contribute, too.

This is one of the rare issues the city faces that has a wide range of support, from residents to leaders alike. It’s a chance for the city to sustain and grow an important asset for the next generation. We’ve seen few issues over the past year or two that can unite the city. This is one that everyone can support.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Henninger is executive director of the Scottsdale Coalition of Today & Tomorrow and can be reached at Donh@scottsdale.com. He also serves on the Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA Board of Directors

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