- Associated Press - Friday, February 26, 2021

PHOENIX (AP) - Two Arizona residents are suing the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale over the development of the San Francisco Giants‘ year-round training facility in Papago Park.

Arthur Deal and Lasse Norgaard-Larsen said in a complaint filed in federal court in December that the cities unlawfully leased the land in Papago Park to the baseball team, the Arizona Republic reported Friday.

Earlier this month, Phoenix and Scottsdale filed motions to dismiss the complaint and questioned Deal and Norgaard-Larsen’s legal standing and arguments.

City officials said they were optimistic their legal argument will win.

“The City of Scottsdale is confident that it will prevail in this suit, and is working collaboratively with the City of Phoenix to defend it,” a Scottsdale spokesperson said in a statement to the Republic.

The facility is scheduled to open after renovations finish in March.

Deal and Norgaard-Larsen’s argument centers on a land deed issued in 1959 to Phoenix that states Papago Park should be used for “park, recreation, public convenience purposes, including the construction of a baseball stadium.”

The pair argue that the Giants‘ lease agreement violates the terms of the deed since the facility will be a private training complex rather than a stadium.

The men, who do not have legal representation, acknowledged the training facility is close to completion and that little can be done to halt construction. Deal said the lawsuit at the very least will raise community awareness and stop cities from disregarding public sentiment in future development decisions.

“When does it end? You can’t just keep chipping away at public lands,” Norgaard-Larsen told the Republic.

Papago Park is a 1,500-acre (6 square kilometer) park located between Tempe and Phoenix. Tempe residents voted in 2018 to designate the Tempe part of the park as a preserve. The remaining 1,200 acres (4.86 kilometers) of land owned by Phoenix is designated as a desert park and does not adhere to the same type of protections, which makes it easier for developers to build on it.

Phoenix leased nearly 37 acres (0.15 square kilometers) of the less-protected land to Scottsdale in 2018, and Scottsdale subsequently subleased the land to the MLB team for 25 years with an option to extend the sublease for another 10 years.

The Giants have conducted spring training at Scottsdale Stadium since 1986, but began renovating the Papago Sports Complex in early 2019.

The complex had been largely vacant since the Oakland Athletics moved its spring training facility to Mesa, Arizona, in 2014.

The Giants are scheduled to begin year-round training at the Papago Park facility in March, but will continue to play their spring training games at Scottsdale Stadium.

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