Glendale in dispute with White Sox over cost of female locker rooms at Camelback Ranch

A legal issue is brewing at Camelback Ranch, where the White Sox reportedly want the city of Glendale to pay $200,000 for a mandated women’s locker room. (Photo courtesy by Jill Weisleder/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A charge issued by Major League Baseball in 2021 that calls for clubs to provide separate locker rooms for women is at the heart of a dispute between Camelback Ranch and at least one MLB team.

The Glendale facility is the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. The city believes the clubs should be responsible for the cost of a separate locker room. The White Sox don’t agree.

“(The White Sox) will be preparing to take legal action against the City of Glendale to resolve the dispute at Camelback Ranch,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps at a recent council meeting. “We expect the Dodgers to be in a similar position regarding it as well.”

The debate comes as women have risen up the ranks in baseball.

In 2020, the San Francisco Giants hired Alyssa Nakken as the first full-time coach MLB history.

Six years earlier, Rachel Balkovec was named the first woman to serve as a full-time minor league strength-and-conditioning coach. She was also the first full-time hitting coach in the minors, and is now the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the New York Yankees’ Low-A affiliate. Kim Ng became the first female general manager in MLB when she took over for the Miami Marlins in 2021.

MLB had seven new female coaches on the field in 2022, marking an all-time high for female representation in the sport.

Camelback Ranch was built by the city at no charge to the teams. Phelps said the White Sox want the city to pay $200,000 for the women’s locker room.
At the city council meeting, Phelps said the city already provides $1.4 million a year to help maintain Camelback Ranch and believes the teams should be responsible for the locker room.
The City of Glendale borrowed approximately $200 million to build the facility, including the construction, outfitting equipment and stabilization for the down payments. The city then entered a 25-year lease which requires each team to pay $1 per year to the city.

“I am disappointed and discouraged that legal proceedings will be moving forward against the city of Glendale,” Phelps said. “The city thinks the two teams should pay for the locker rooms, not the Glendale residents, because the estimated net worth of the two exceeds $7 billion.”

In recent years, the city has denied several requests by the team, including inquiries on expensive chairs, whiteboards and phones.

The Dodgers and White Sox retain ticket, food, beverage and merchandise revenue, while the city retains about $60,000 per year in sales tax revenue. The city also provides Camelback Ranch about $1.4 million annually to help maintain the facility.

Camelback Ranch was built in 2009 and consists of 141 acres, 13 complete baseball fields, over 120,000 square feet of locker rooms and administrative support area and 12 luxury suites.

Spring Training for the 2023 season starts in late February.

Bobby Murphy baw-bee mer-fee
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Bobby Murphy expects to graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Murphy will be interning with Varsity Sports Show as a broadcaster in the fall.