Phoenix The Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers say they will move their spring training sites from Florida to Surprise, Ariz., if the Phoenix suburb builds a stadium.
Top officials of both franchises made the commitment at a news conference with city officials Monday. The move is targeted for 2002.
Funding for the $45 million stadium would be in place if Maricopa County voters approve Proposition 302 on Nov. 7, Surprise City Manager Bill Pupo said. Two-thirds of the money would come from the measure and one-third from the city.
Proposition 302 would impose a hotel and rental car tax to fund a new stadium for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals as well as provide money to improve and construct spring training facilities. The measure also includes money for youth sports.
However, city of Surprise officials said they would seek other means to build the facility if the measure is defeated.
Surprise is a fast-growing city of about 40,000, located 35 miles west of downtown Phoenix.
"With the possibility of coming to Arizona, we didn't think twice," Royals executive vice president Herk Robinson said. "We are firmly committed to signing a long-term lease with the city of Surprise and feel that our relationship will be one of good citizenship that we can give to the community as well as receive."
The Royals' lease of their spring training site at Haines City, Fla., expires after the 2002 season, but Robinson said his team could move before then. The Rangers' lease in Port Charlotte, Fla., expires after next season.
General managers and managers of both teams attended the news conference, along with Hall of Famer George Brett, who played his entire career with the Royals, and Rangers shortstop Royce Clayton, who lives in nearby Scottsdale.
"There's no question that there are a lot of benefits to us to come here," said Mike Cramer, chief executive officer of Southwest Sports Group, which owns the Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars. "It's an easier trip for our fans coming from Dallas. The quality of the league here is tremendous. The support for the league here has been tremendous."
Royals manager Tony Muser participated in Arizona spring training for 19 years with the Chicago Cubs and Brewers.
"It seems as though we're always the visiting club when we play in Baseball City," Muser said. "There's never a feeling of roots."