Arizona baseball received approval from the Tucson City Council for a letter of intent to become the primary lessee of Hi Corbett field, according to the Arizona Daily Star's Rob O'Dell. It's yet another bold move in Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne's serious considerations of moving the Wildcat baseball team from Frank Sancet Stadium.
It's a risky move, but one that could reap the benefits of beer and alcohol sales, something the field was well known for in hosted professional teams like the Tucson Toros. Patrick Finley of the Daily Star, who has written on the potential move, tweeted that the move was all about beer sales.
#ArizonaWildcats move to Hi Corbett about changing game experience, sure, but beer sales (and $ from it) is key here
Not only could the fan-draw be larger than the baseball team's games at Sancet because of the improved stadium and beer sales, but the beer sales themselves -- along with food and merchandise, of course -- will generate money that will find its way back into the Arizona Athletic department's pocket. Via the Star:
The UA, which is not subject to sales tax, would pay the city the equivalent of 2 percent sales tax on all food, beer, beverage and merchandise sales, but would not be charged sales tax on tickets. Any third party the UA subleases to would also be required to pay the 2 percent sales tax to the city.
All concessions, merchandise and ticket sales would go to the UA.
Paying $250,000 per year for five years, the Wildcats would have veto power at the stadium for dates corresponding to the academic school year. Per the Star:
The UA would have exclusive rights to the facility from Jan. 5 to June 18 and Aug. 10 to Dec. 1 each year. During those times the UA could veto events held at Hi Corbett, said city attorney Mike Rankin.
At other times the two sides would have to agree about an event. Certain city events would be exempted and would not need approval.
A quarter million is a lot to pay for a lease, you might say, but the Star reports the fees will include paying the city for upkeep and maintenance on the facility.
Greg Byrne also told the Daily Star that Arizona would be willing to pay as much as $5 million (no dollar figure is mentioned in the official paperwork) for improvements to the leased facility, and such improvements would return to the city's ownership at the end of the lease.