Play Ball!Go enjoy a baseball game--while you can! Spring training is once again underway in the Tucson, with the Colorado Rockies playing out at Hi Corbett Field, and the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox sharing Tucson Electric Park.
But these may be late innings for spring training in Tucson. The Chicago White Sox are already reserving their new dugout in Glendale, Ariz., even though their contract with Pima County runs through 2012. And the effort to lure a third team to Tucson--probably necessary if the D'Backs and Rox are going to stay in Tucson--is turning out to be a struggle, as the most likely team to leave Florida, the Cincinnati Reds, is now in exclusive talks with the town of Goodyear in Maricopa County, according to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Plus, the Rockies, who say they'd like to stay in Tucson, are asking for $20 million to $30 million in improvements at Hi Corbett.
Despite the glum outlook, local baseball boosters, including Jack Camper of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, are continuing to try to cook up ways to raise the money necessary to keep baseball alive in Southern Arizona.
In other sports news: The Arizona Wildcats suffered a pair of defeats in their final home games this season. The Cats got walloped by USC, 70-58, last Thursday, Feb. 28. Three days later, on Sunday, March 2, the Cats fell behind early to No. 4 UCLA, but fought their way back and nearly pulled off an upset victory. But with the ball in his hands and a clear shot to tie the game in the final seconds, Kirk Walters dished it off to Jerryd Bayless, who could barely get his errant shot off as he was gang-swarmed by three UCLA players. Final score: UCLA 68, UA 66.
Can the Cats still make the NCAA tourney? Guess we'll have to see what happens when they're on the road in Oregon this week.
They Fought the LawA bad week for the bad guys: Louis Richard Arboisiere, 32, was shot and killed by Tucson Police Officer Claude Ralls last Thursday, Feb. 28. Police say that Ralls shot Arboisiere after the Nogales man refused to exit a vehicle and tried to drive past him in a westside neighborhood while Ralls was investigating Arboisiere's possible connection to an armed robbery in Sahuarita.
On Friday, Vincent Samuel Azzarello, 25, was shot and killed after he fired on Pima County Sheriff's Department deputies Matthew D. Salmon and Bruce E. Haufe. The deputies were investigating a domestic-violence incident in the Avra Valley area involving Azzarello when the suspect tried to flee. In the ensuring scuffle, Azzarello shot Salmon--who was wearing body armor--in the chest and Haufe in the hand before Salmon shot Azzarello.
In other law-enforcement news: Tucson Police Department Lt. Mike Pryor updated the Tucson City Council on the photo-radar pilot program. Pryor told council members that the system, which includes a mobile van to nab speeders and cameras at three intersections to catch both speeders and red-light violators, has handed out more than 7,400 tickets in its first six months of operation. Pryor cited statistics that showed accidents had decreased at intersections that had the cameras.
Cameras are now in place at the intersections of Valencia Road and Old Nogales Highway; Kolb and Grant roads; and Wilmot Road and 22nd Street. The final camera, at River and Oracle roads, is expected to be operational this month.
Border BucksThe Department of Homeland Security announced that the UA will receive $15 million to help lead the Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration. The new program will study new technologies to help with surveillance and research policy issues related to immigration.
"This is the latest example of how the UA can leverage its geographical advantage to serve the people of Arizona," press-released UA President Robert Shelton.