The good folks at Spring Training Online have broken this story -- I haven't seen it anywhere else -- that Mesa officials returned from a meeting with Cubs management in Chicago with the message that the Cubs do want to stay in Mesa, but with a new complex, not at Ho Ho Kam Park:
So city officials, we're told, are abandoning talk of a HoHoKam Park renovation in favor of a new spring facility, probably on the west side closer to the airport. There, the Cubs can pursue additional development and finally unite the training camp with the spring ballpark (currently the Cubs train at Finch Field and play games at HoHoKam Park).
Okay, so they got the name of the training/minor league facility wrong (it's Fitch Park, not "Finch Field"). There's more....
Pursuant to this new strategy the city is putting together a list of possible training sites within the city, but father away from downtown Mesa. One thing is for certain, we're told by insiders: there's very little chance of the Cubs moving to Florida, no matter how bad Naples officials covet the team. And give the Cubs some credit: they're not out (yet, anyway) playing cities against cities for the best spring-training deal.
This is all good news for the Cubs and Cubs fans; Arizona has been the Cubs' spring-training home since 1952 (except for one year in Long Beach, California in 1966). Spring training weather is consistently better in Arizona than in Florida and by 2011, all 15 teams in the Cactus League will be in the Phoenix metropolitan area, all within less than an hour's drive from each other.
Wanted to post this right away; hope to find corroboration of this at other sites soon, or from the Cubs.