Cardinals, Glendale still at impasse over camp

No progress between Cardinals, Glendale on camp; sticking point is use of nearby youth soccer fields.

We’re less than six weeks from the expected start of Cardinals training camp. Still, nobody knows for certain where that camp will be.

Glendale has long been viewed as the expected landing place after Northern Arizona University closed the book on a possible return to Flagstaff. But after speaking with city attorneys this weekend, Glendale councilmember Gary Sherwood said the city and the Cardinals still aren’t close to an agreement.

“None of it makes any sense for the city still,” Sherwood said. “I can’t believe we’re even spending time on it with all the other things we’re behind on.”

A Cardinals spokesperson declined comment on the negotiations, but Sherwood said the main hang-up is the use of the city’s youth soccer fields at Bethany Home Road and 91st Avenue, near University of Phoenix Stadium. The city has managed the fields through its parks and recreation department since Feb. 1, 2012, at a cost of about $280,000 annually. But Sherwood noted that the city has taken in between $80,000 and $85,000 in revenue from the fields, which lease for $25 to $33 an hour.

Under the proposed deal, the Cardinals would hire Rojo Entertainent Management to take over the management of the fields, with the city paying Rojo about $280,000 annually. But in this deal, Rojo would keep the first $150,000 in revenue. Rojo and the city would then split any additional revenue, with Rojo receiving 80 percent and the city receiving 20 percent of it.

Based on previous years’ figures, Sherwood is not sure there would be any additional revenue to split, although he expects that Rojo would promote the fields a bit more than Glendale has.

“It’s a worse deal than the one we have right now. We lose money. I have no idea why we would agree to it,” Sherwood said, noting the city’s well-chronicled budget issues. “They still want to make money off of us, and we can’t do that.”

The obvious advantage for those using the fields is that a bubble, which would stretch over over one and a half fields, would ensure a controlled climate for youth and other games year-round. But in the city’s current financial predicament, spending money on such a luxury amenity makes little sense. 

Sherwood said the possibility still exists that the Cardinals could put a bubble up on their own land and not use the city’s soccer fields at all. But if the Cardinals do intend to use the soccer fields, Sherwood added, “they probably need to begin getting them in shape for NFL standards quickly.”

There is one more hurdle the Cardinals must address. University of Phoenix Stadium is due to host a soccer match between Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 1. That falls after the start of training camp, so the Cardinals would have to find another place to train for at least that day and possibly more leading into the game since the field will need to be prepped to soccer standards, a major challenge with an NFL team practicing on it in the days leading up to the match.

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