Next month, voters in Mesa will be asked to approve proposition 420, which will provide funding for the proposed new Cubs spring training complex. The image above is a rendering of an aerial view of the new complex, which will include the ballpark, team facilities and a large retail/restaurant area. Practice fields aren't shown in this rendering but would be adjacent to the stadium (in the area at the left of the rendering that isn't detailed).
The new proposal, according to Keep the Cubs, a group dedicated (obviously) to keeping the Cubs in Mesa, would not cost the taxpayers of Mesa anything:
It will allow work to begin on a new spring training venue for the team and clears the way for the team to begin development of a privately-funded, baseball-themed entertainment district known as "Wrigleyville West." And best of all, it can all happen without raising sales taxes or property taxes and without spending any Mesa general fund tax dollars! In fact, the project is expected to save the City money on stadium operations as the team is expected to assume about $2 million in yearly maintenance and operations expenses at the new facility. And it guarantees the Cubs will remain at least another 30 years for spring training in the city.
On the ballot is a measure required by the Mesa city charter, which says that any time the city spends more than $1.5 million on a sports facility, it has to be approved by the voters.
Funding for the proposal will come from the sale of some land that Mesa owns in Pinal County and the increasing of hotel bed taxes (on the ballot as a separate vote) to match what are already being charged in -- the land is 11,000 acres of non revenue producing land that will be sold over the next 20 years to finance the new facility.
If the measure is approved, the city of Mesa will build and own the stadium. The costs for the stadium are capped at $84 million and the city would provide infrastructure costs at $15 million, so the maximum expenditure would be $99 million, and possibly less. In return, the Cubs will build the "Wrigleyville West" complex that you see in these photos; the Cubs are going to call it their "Western Baseball Headquarters," expanding office space and player facilities and in general spending more time in Arizona; this would help in player development by having a better place to train young players than the team currently has at Fitch Park. The Cubs would be signing a 30-year lease (the longest spring lease by any team is now 20 years), with four five-year options to extend the lease.
I've made no secret here of my preference for the Cubs to keep spring training in Mesa and the reasons for doing so. This proposal appears to be a win-win for everyone, and I'm posting about it now for two reasons:
- In Arizona, early voting starts on Thursday, so people can mail ballots in, and
- On Saturday, the city of Mesa is having a ceremony honoring Ron Santo for his long service to the Cubs organization and a rally to support the proposition; details here. If you're in the Phoenix area, stop on by HoHoKam Park at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Here are more renderings of the proposed complex.
Renderings courtesy Keep The Cubs; click on any image to open a larger version in a new browser window