Kino Sports Stadium a mistake?

When the county voted to build what was then Tucson Electric Park, (now Kino Sports Center) for $38 million, there was a lone dissenting vote among the five supervisors.

It was newly elected District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who still sits on the board.

Today, 16 years after her no vote, she voted yes to approve a $3 million taxpayer subsidy to pay the debt. It's a vote she now makes year after year.

"We don't have a choice," she says. "We have to pay the debt."

When asked if she can say I told you so she said "you can always say that but is it going to solve the problem? No."

The problem she's talking about is trying to find ways to generate dollars to pay the debt, maintenance and upkeep costs.

It's not been easy,

The stadium was built for the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks for spring training.

It was opened with much fanfare and expectations, but the luster has faded.

Both teams bolted to Phoenix seeking better deals and better facilities. The Colorado Rockies left too, leaving Tucson without spring training for the first time in 60 years.

"These subsides for major league sports teams really created a deep hole for many budgets," says District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll, who voted against the subsidy. "And like our budget here today, are facing empty stadiums now."

But he adds "the bill remains."

But the stadium is not exactly empty. There are concerts, Mexican baseball, soccer and community events.

They can bring in about $2 million in revenue. But the bill for the stadium, including the debt service is $5 million.

The taxpayers, whether they want to or not, make up the difference.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says it most like will become a regional park.

"We're moving in that direction," he says.

"It's an excellent location for a regional park," Bronson says. "Let's put it to use for the taxpayer, the community, our children."

Asked whether she will say 16 years later it was a mistake Bronson says "yeah, in my opinion, I think it was a mistake."