Phoenix passes plan to keep Crew in Maryvale

Proposal to overhaul club's spring home, extend stay for 25 years approved by 6-2 vote

Phoenix passes plan to keep Crew in Maryvale

MILWAUKEE -- The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday approved a major renovation of Maryvale Baseball Park that will keep the Brewers in their Spring Training home for another 25 years.

The plan, which passed by a 6-2 vote, calls for the Brewers to foot most of the bill for an overhaul of the complex, which has housed their Spring Training operation, a Rookie League team and the organization's year-round rehabilitation facility since 1998. The Brewers will invest at least $41 million in construction of a new 65,000-square-foot building with clubhouse, office and retail space, plus an expanded stadium concourse and a new practice field that replicates the dimensions of Miller Park.

The Brewers will spend the next four and a half months finalizing blueprints before breaking ground immediately following their Cactus League finale. They hope to be "substantially finished" in time for 2019 Spring Training.

"It's nice to be moving on to the next step," said Brewers executive vice president of finance and administration Bob Quinn, one of several club officials on hand for Wednesday's vote, which followed about 20 minutes of debate.

Under the agreement, the Brewers will invest $41 million to $63 million in the project and take over operation and maintenance from the city of Phoenix under a lease extension through 2042. The Brewers will also contribute $1 million annually to a capital replacement account starting in 2022.

The city, meanwhile, will contribute $10 million over the next five years to the renovation, on top of continuing to support the park to the tune of its current operational costs, which amount to about $1.4 million annually.

District 5 councilman Daniel Valenzuela, who cast one of the votes in favor of the agreement, called it, "a great model of how a professional sports team can work together with a city to extend their stay -- potentially permanently, which is amazing -- and doing it in a way in which taxpayers are protected."

According to the city, this will be the Cactus League's first stadium renovation funded primarily by a team.

Included in the plan:

• Construction of a new, 65,000-square-foot building along the first-base line to house the Major League clubhouse, training and video facilities more comparable to other Major League facilities, and expanded office, ticketing and retail space.

• A wider and shadier first-base concourse with expanded concessions and restrooms, plus a new kids play area.

• An expansion of an existing practice diamond on the east side of the complex into a full-size field with dimensions mimicking Miller Park, down to the height of the walls surrounding the field of play.

• The existing building that houses the Major League clubhouse will remain and be repurposed, likely for the Brewers' Minor League operation.

• "Enhanced" parking for fans, and new landscaping.

• The Brewers will contribute $50,000 annually to the City of Phoenix's youth program to fund free swim admission at city pools.

• The Brewers will partner with Grand Canyon University, another anchor of Phoenix's west side, to provide free tutoring for local students. The Brewers have already relocated one full-time front-office position to Phoenix to begin implementing Brewers-funded events with Maryvale neighborhood schools and local community groups.

The city will continue to own the complex, but the Brewers will have an option to buy once the 25-year term of the deal is up.

For Quinn, Wednesday's vote ended a long search for alternatives to Maryvale, which included possibilities both in Arizona -- the Brewers' preferred location in part because of proximity to other teams -- and in Florida. His search intensified after David Stearns took over as GM following the 2015 season.

When the Brewers began Spring Training earlier this year, owner Mark Attanasio made clear he was eager to bring the search to a conclusion. And in the end, Maryvale proved the most logical choice.

"It's a big commitment from our ownership group," Quinn said. "We're dedicated to putting together a first-class facility, that when our ballplayers show up for the 2019 Spring Training, they walk in and say, 'Wow!'"

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.