Spring Training: In late 1980s Pima pursued MLB teams

By MYLO ERICKSON

 

In the late 1980s, Pima Community College found itself in a bidding war to become a Major League Baseball spring training site.

If the plan had passed, it would have added practice fields, batting cages and clubhouse facilities.

The project was going to be split between downtown Tucson and West Campus. The main stadium would have been downtown, while West Campus would have hosted minor league spring training.

In 1987, Acuna Coffeen Landscape Architects conducted a study of the proposed sites. The study was revised and submitted to the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department in 1988.

The company determined that West Campus land was suitable for tournament play. However, the downtown land around Interstate 10 and Congress was deemed unsuitable.

With that, talks began to circulate of building a hotel near West Campus to serve as housing for ballplayers. There was also talk of dormitories for student-athletes, since Pima was one of the few Arizona community colleges that did not provide student housing. It still doesn’t.

When the Colorado Rockies replaced the Cleveland Indians at Tucson’s Hi Corbett Field in 1993, Pima’s hopes of baseball field expansions faded.

Hopes resurfaced when the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers talked about moving their spring training camps to Arizona.

However, during that time the fields at West Campus were in bad condition and were being reseeded, which forced the baseball teams to practice at Reid Park and Santa Rita High School.

Pima felt it could offer education as an incentive for professional athletes who routinely face the prospect of career-ending injuries or non-renewed contracts.

College officials said PCC could provide associate degrees, plus English as a Second Language programs for the numerous players arriving from countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

During this time, Pima seemed to be in the running for a chance to take advantage of baseball-generated revenue.

But the plan never came to pass, as baseball teams relocated their spring training and minor league affiliates to locations outside of Tucson.

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