An upcoming vote will decide whether to approve a 25-year lease for the University of Arizona baseball team at Hi Corbett Field.
The city of Tucson is scheduled to vote on the matter this week, nearly four years before the current lease, which was signed in 2011, expires in 2021.
Under the terms of the new lease, the University lease payments would decrease dramatically, going from $262,000 annually to a nominal $10 a year. However, in exchange for this lower lease, the University of Arizona will be required to pay all utilities, take over management and operations of the field, and make $3 million in improvements.
City Attorney Mike Rankin negotiated this new lease for the stadium, which was originally built in 1927. The lease must be approved by both the city of Tucson and the Arizona Board of Regents.
The Colorado Rockies used Hi Corbett, but left after the city declined to fund $20 to $30 million in stadium upgrades. The facility has undergone six major improvement projects since it was first built.
Much of the University of Arizona community has supported use of the stadium, as it provides several advantages, one of the most prominent being it’s off-campus location that allows for beer sales, which has contributed to rising attendance.
The stadium also serves as an attractive recruiting tool for the baseball program, which has gained traction in recent years due to the Wildcat’s national championship win. Hi Corbett is attractive because it was built for major league baseball and has hosted numerous professional teams, so it allows athletes to develop their skills for the future.
If approved, the new lease would allow the university to implement batting cages, more comfortable seating and upgraded lights, and the city will maintain its revenue stream. This includes two percent of all food, beverage and beer sales as well as fan merchandise.