Cubs/Mesa Spring Training Complex Update

The Cubs and the city of Mesa have decided on a site for the proposed new Cubs spring training complex.

Yesterday, officials in Mesa, Arizona chose one location over several others for the proposed new Cubs spring training facility -- and the decision was in part made because of a waterpark:

Mesa and the Chicago Cubs are now exclusively considering Riverview Park in the city’s northwest corner for the team's new spring training complex.

The team would share the area with the proposed Waveyard water park and resort, which is scaling back its plans to only include the water park.

There were originally three proposed locations, including this one (located near the intersection of highways 101 and 202), downtown Mesa, and a site near Red Mountain located near highway 202 and Recker Road in east Mesa. Here's why Mesa officials and the Cubs consider the Riverview site the best location:

The Cubs favor the Riverview site because of good freeway access and a central location. Also, a city-commissioned study shows that site had the most potential to attract specialty shops and restaurants that could be part of the Wrigleyville West concept that is aimed at making the complex active all year. The other sites studied were downtown Mesa and an area near Loop 2O2 and Recker Road. City officials said those sites would work but more specific plans need to be developed despite the uncertainty of how or whether Waveyard would be developed.

The new complex would include a "Wrigleyville West" entertainment and restaurant/bar area that would, the Cubs and Mesa hope, be a year-round tourist attraction as well as year-round facilities for the Cubs' extended spring training, summer league, and Arizona Fall League teams. But what will then become of HoHoKam Park? The current park and its predecessor on that site have been the Cubs' spring home since 1979.

This Ballpark Digest article says Mesa officials will be lobbying hard to get another team to move into HoHoKam Park when the Cubs depart:

Not a bad plan, really: might as well give it a shot. The plan is pretty simple: when the Cubs leave in 2O13 (or perhaps earlier), Mesa will be working to have another MLB team lined up as a new tenant. While Mesa officials say they'll look to Florida for a team, they're probably wasting their time: virtually every team is now committed to their Florida homes via long-term lease; the few that aren't, like the Washington Nationals and Minneota Twins, are highly unlikely to uproot operations for Arizona.

The article says 2013 or earlier, but given the fact that part of the financing for the Cubs complex still has to go before Mesa voters in November and not a single shovelful of dirt has been moved, the more likely date is 2014.

Also, sources say that several Florida-based teams may indeed be among the clubs contacted to see if they want to move to a renovated HoHoKam, including the Twins, Blue Jays, Astros and Orioles. The Cubs are contractually obligated to help the city of Mesa find a team to take over HoHoKam, as part of the deal for the new complex -- the city of Mesa doesn't want it to end up this way, like the Brewers' old Compadre Stadium in Chandler, which was considered the jewel of the Cactus League when it opened in 1986.

Considering the fact that five teams (Rangers, Royals, Dodgers, Indians and Reds) have moved from Florida-based spring training to Arizona since 2003, don't count out the possibility that another team could be lured to train in Mesa. If nothing else, it would make spring scheduling easier by having an even number of teams (16) in Arizona, all of them in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

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