PHOENIX-A-rod, the all-star shortstop who just signed a $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers, may be spending his springs in the Valley.

The suburb of Surprise is closer than ever to building a spring training complex for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, now that they’ve received the promise of $26 million from the Tourism and Sports Authority.

Surprise plans to spend $45 million to build the complex, which would be ready for the baseball spring training season in 2002. Surprise, a suburb just 10 miles west of Phoenix, would fund the development cost beyond the contribution from the Tourism and Sports Authority.

The two American league teams signed letter of intent in October saying they wanted to move spring training to Surprise from facilities in Florida.

Surprise wanted to get a commitment for the money so that the teams could begin planning their move, says Surprise City Manager Bill Pupo.

As a result of the vote on Nov. 7, the Tourism and Sports Authority, the same organization that will own and operate the new 73,000-seat stadium for the Arizona Cardinals, has millions to spend on spring training, sports parks for kids.

Spring training venues are a boon for most communities in the Valley, drawing crowds of hardcore baseball fans and winter visitors who bask in the warm sun.

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