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Todd Ricketts: New Cubs Spring Stadium First, Then Wrigleyville West

A rendering of what the Cubs' new spring training park might look like. (Courtesy: Keep The Cubs)
A rendering of what the Cubs' new spring training park might look like. (Courtesy: Keep The Cubs)

For those of you who think the Ricketts family isn't focused on baseball and winning, this Todd Ricketts interview in the East Valley Tribune may help convince you otherwise.

In it, Todd Ricketts, who is the family's "point person" for the new spring training complex, says that the team is focusing on building the new stadium first, then the retail/hotel part of the project:
The Cubs complex in northeast Mesa will include a field with the same dimensions of Chicago's famed Wrigley Field, Ricketts said. The team may use some design cues from Wrigley, he said, but won't build a replica. The facility won't be as lavish as some new Cactus League parks because the Cubs want to focus more on the fundamentals: training the team to win.

"Ours might be a little more businesslike in its layout and design," Ricketts said.
Clearly, part of the reason for the delay are the current economic conditions, as Ricketts points out:
The economy will play a role in the timing. Ricketts said it wouldn't make sense to build a project unless shops and restaurants are willing to move in.

Also, Todd Ricketts met with people involved with the new Diamondbacks/Rockies complex just outside the Scottsdale city limits to find out how they went about building their project, which is about to open for games this weekend. Here's what he said they learned:

Ricketts said he toured the complex and liked it, but he wants to apply some lessons from that project.

"Talking to some of the guys there, they were like, ‘Maybe we could have thought through a few of the things better if we'd had more time,'" Ricketts said. "It's always a tradeoff between trying to get it done and trying to do it right. We're trying to find that right balance."

It's my understanding that they are going to try to break ground later this year and open the complex for summer league games and the Arizona Fall League in 2013, so they can have a "shakedown cruise", so to speak, without the large crowds of a spring training game being the first event in the new stadium. Then they'd open for spring training games in 2014. It sounds like they not only want to get this right, but are focusing on the correct thing -- building a first-class facility dedicated to helping the team win.