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Mesa mayor says he backed out of talks between Cubs, ASU

MESA, Ariz. - The deal between Arizona State University and the Chicago Cubs to share a new baseball stadium has collapsed.

Whose decision was it to end negotiations? That depends on who you ask.

ASU issued a statement on Thursday saying that it pulled out of the deal because it was far too costly for the university.

But Mesa Mayor Scott Smith argues the new stadium wouldn't have cost ASU a thing, and that the new stadium would have been a perfect fit for the Sun Devils.

"It was close to the ASU campus," Smith said. "We could arrange the practice facilities so there was complete separation between the ASU facilities and the Cubs facilities. They literally would have had to go out of their way to interact with each other. It was a perfect situation."

Appearing on KTAR's "Arizona's Morning News Weekend" show on Saturday, Smith said moving to the new stadium wouldn't have cost ASU anything, and, in fact, the university would have received the first one million dollars in revenues from the stadium.

Smith said that ASU had become increasingly difficult to deal with.

"We had sent out a recent draft that the city had prepared and didn't get a positive response from them," Smith said.

That's when the mayor said he took action that led to negotiations being stopped.

"I informed both ASU President Michael Crowe and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts that I wasn't going to spin my wheels as a mediator, and, therefore, wasn't going to act in that capacity anymore."

ASU wants to move its baseball program out of Packard Stadium, and said it is exploring other stadium options.

Smith said there's little chance of the Sun Devils moving into Mesa's Hohokam Stadium once the Cubs leave there to head to the new ballpark.

He said Mesa is in negotiations with the Oakland Athletics to move their Cactus League games to Hohokam from Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

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 live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

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: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

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 - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We 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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