The groups trying to lure the Cubs out of Arizona and to the Naples, Fla., area for spring training are continuing to push, with a press conference scheduled today.
But no matter how strong their bid looks at the end of the day, a move to Southwest Florida for the Cubs would be foolish.
The best training facilities and stadiums in recent years have been built in Arizona. The best spring training travel is in Arizona, with all but one of the 15 teams in Arizona soon to be clustered in the Phoenix metro area – compared to only two teams within an hour of the proposed Florida site.
And the Cubs also would be giving up their status as top draw – by far – in the Cactus League with a move to Florida, where they would at least second to the Yankees, if not third behind the Boston Red Sox.
Naturally, the 10 East Division teams train in Florida, along with Central Division teams located in the Eastern time zone, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
But just over the past half-dozen years, five teams have fled Florida for Arizona, including two from the Eastern Time Zone, Cleveland and Cincinnati (starting 2010). And every team from the West and Mountain zones, along with five of the eight Central time zone teams train there. The Phoenix area has made that big of a regional commitment to major league teams, and the advantages to the short trips and getting the most out of a training day are clear to many teams.
The Cubs can dream about Disneyland-type spring complexes and listen to golden offers all day long, but moving from Arizona would be a mistake. And the Cubs’ baseball people don’t want the hassles of Florida any more than the players want that 2 1/2-hour bus ride to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays in a meaningless game or that 3 1/2-hour bus ride to Viera for the Nationals.
In fact, if the Cubs were to actually uproot and move to Florida, you can count on Arizona and the Phoenix region redoubling their efforts to appease the rest of their spring teams – and likely result in luring another team or two away from Florida to fill the void.
Which might give a team like, say, the Cardinals, a shot at landing the next state-of-the art, luxurious, revenue-producing training site in Arizona.