There is talk of an A’s move … and it has nothing to do with Oakland or San Jose.
The team announced Monday morning that it will begin an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city of Mesa, AZ, to possibly move its spring training home there from Phoenix. The negotiating period runs through May 15, 2012 but can be extended through mutual agreement and approval by the Mesa City Council. The A’s current contract with Phoenix ends after the 2014 season. It’s unclear if they could wiggle out of that contract early, or if they would even want to. The team plans to make no further comment beyond Monday’s press release.
The A’s would play their games at Hohokam Park and train at Fitch Park — currently used by the Chicago Cubs — were they to move to Mesa. There’s been talk in the past about the Cubs moving their spring training home to Florida, but as of now, there’s no indication of how a potential A’s move to Mesa would affect the Cubs.
A’s officials have talked about the need to improve the facilities both at Phoenix Municipal Stadium — where they play their spring games — and at Papago Park, where they hold some workouts and house their minor league operations. Phoenix Muni holds just 8,775 fans, the second-smallest in the Cactus League, and is the oldest Cactus League ballpark still used. It was built in 1964. Hohokam Park has a capacity of 12,500.
In all honesty, Phoenix Muni is beginning to look antique compared to the new stadiums that have sprouted up around the Cactus League. But I’d hate to see the A’s leave that park. It’s very small and offers one of the best fan experiences as far as being close to the action and seeing players up close. Plus, there’s a terrific view of the Papago Park mountain range over the left field fence. No stadium has more of a “desert feel” to it than Phoenix Muni.
**Second baseman Jemile Weeks and pitcher Tyson Ross will make an appearance at the Alameda County Food Bank on Wednesday at 2 p.m. as part of a food and fund drive. The first 150 people to bring a minimum of 10 non-perishable food items or donate $20 cash will receive an autographed photo.
That’s all for now …