Ticket to Raid

The Arizona Diamondbacks weren't the only team to take full advantage of their first World Series appearance. The five-member Maricopa County Board of Supervisors also had a field day.

Longtime Diamondback supporter Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox flew to New York City on the Diamondbacks' chartered jet to enjoy the World Series in Yankee Stadium, says county spokesman Al Macias.

Wilcox intends to repay the Diamondbacks for the cost of her trip, Macias says, once she receives an invoice from the team.

"She will pay them for all costs incurred," he says.

Meanwhile, back in Phoenix, Wilcox and the other four supervisors -- Don Stapley, Jan Brewer, Fulton Brock and Andy Kunasek -- all raided the United Way's Bank One Ballpark luxury suite, obtaining 24 tickets for their personal use for Games 1 and 2.

Last week, New Times revealed that Brewer, Stapley and Kunasek purchased United Way tickets to the first two games. So far, there has been no accounting on what the supervisors did with the tickets and whether they sold them for a profit. The United Way sold the tickets to the supervisors for face value of $145, far below the market rate for the tickets in the suite perched above first base.

"I didn't go out and ask for a Big Four accounting firm to review this," Macias says when asked for records showing what the supervisors did with the tickets.

After strong-arming the United Way to cough up the tickets to Games 1 and 2, all of the supervisors now claim through Macias that they didn't personally use the tickets, but instead sold or gave them to friends and relatives.

But the suite contract clearly stipulates that those tickets are not be redistributed or sold. "[U]se of the suite is intended for the organization allocated the tickets only," the lease agreement states. "Sale, transfer, and/or reallocation, of the suite tickets is prohibited."

The United Way was planning to auction the suite for the first two games as a fundraiser before supervisors said they wanted the tickets, says Valley of the Sun United Way president Brian Hassett.

Why the supervisors purchased World Series tickets they didn't intend to personally use remains a mystery.

Macias says Stapley, who purchased seven tickets to Game 1, was at home sick. In an interview last week, Stapley told New Times it "was none of your business" what he did with the tickets.

Macias says Kunasek, who purchased two tickets, instead went hunting in Northern Arizona and watched the game on television. It is unknown what he did with the tickets.

Friends of Brock purchased an unspecified number of tickets from the United Way, Macias says.

Brewer, who purchased eight tickets, and Wilcox, who obtained an unknown number of suite tickets, both attended Game 1, but, according to Macias, did not sit in the suite.

In an indication that supervisors are increasingly concerned over legal questions stemming from the purchase and possible resale of the United Way tickets, the supervisors and the United Way are attempting to deflect criticism by claiming that the World Series was not a Diamondback playoff game.

The Maricopa County Stadium District -- which is run by the board of supervisors -- leased the luxury suite to the United Way in 1997, on the terms that the United Way retain rights to all tickets to home baseball games -- including Diamondback playoff games. Now the supervisors and United Way are employing convoluted logic to make it appear that the World Series was a stadium district event rather than a Major League Baseball event.

According to the suite contract, supervisors control tickets to all stadium district events. Up until now, stadium district events have included concerts, motorsports, religious gatherings, community activities like the New Times 10K and trade shows.

But the United Way, the contract states, controls tickets to all Diamondbacks pre-season and regular season home games and "ancillary baseball events" -- which are defined as "team playoff games" and all-star games.

The county, Macias says, is taking the position that under the contract, "playoff" games do not include the World Series even though the tickets were controlled and sold by the Diamondbacks.

"It was a stadium district event," Macias says.

United Way spokeswoman Nicole Magnuson says she at first thought the World Series tickets would belong to the United Way but says the nonprofit's chief financial officer, Merl E. Waschler, told her the World Series tickets belonged to the county.

Waschler says he helped negotiate the suite lease and says it was clearly understood by both parties that in the event the Diamondbacks reached the World Series, those tickets would be controlled by the county.

"Clearly, the people who negotiated this agreement back in 1997 specifically excluded the World Series and other kinds of things like that from the United Way lease," Waschler says. "The 'N SYNC concert, the Rolling Stones, it was those kinds of things that the county wanted to hang on to."

But while county supervisors and the United Way claim the World Series was a stadium district event, Maricopa County Stadium District director Bill Scalzo himself says the World Series was a baseball event.

"It's a special World Series event controlled by baseball," Scalzo says. "A district event is something when we don't do baseball."

The supervisors didn't ask for United Way tickets to Games 6 or 7. The United Way quietly auctioned the tickets last Friday morning on sports radio station KGME and received $7,600 for Game 6 and $7,100 for Game 7. The combined face value for the tickets was $1,740 for each game.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty