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Mayoral candidate concerned about Camelback Ranch payment

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The proposed sales tax to help Glendale with its budget deficit and keep the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena is getting a lot of attention.

But one candidate for mayor is worried about how the city is facing another financial burden next year.

Glendale is facing a payment that's due involving Camelback Ranch, the spring training baseball home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

"That's the elephant in the room that no one is speaking about," said Democratic candidate Manuel Cruz.

Cruz said the city will owe a payment of at least $13 million on that stadium next year.

"It's a payment for debt service for the bond that they took out to build that facility," he said.

No one knows how the cash-strapped city is going to pay it, but Cruz said one idea is being floated around.

"They're going to try to do a lease-lease back to come up with some additional revenues to pay for those debt services," he said. "It's the city hall and the police station that they're going to do the lease-lease back with in order to make up for the first year's payment and some other programs that they want to fund."

The Glendale Executive Committee proposed the idea to the Glendale City Council, which decided to postpone a vote on it. Cruz said that it is unclear whether the city council will vote on it this year, or leave it for the new city council to decide next year.

Cruz said he has another idea where Glendale would work with other partners to share the costs of the stadium. He wouldn't elaborate on his plan, except to say that he thinks Glendale would "break even" on the stadium if he is elected and can put that plan into place.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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