The restoration and expansion of Wrigley Field continues for back home, sort of, for the Chicago Cubs. Getting what they want in a timely manner from the city has proved difficult in such a treacherous political and economic environment.
Meanwhile in Mesa, Ariz., they're about to open a $99 million ballpark that seats 15,000 fans for Cactus League games and has enough space to accommodate all of the organization's spring training needs. The place looks like everything the Cubs, who had threatened to move to Florida if they didn't get what they wanted in Arizona, could hope for.
From AZ Central:
It’s the centerpiece of a complex whose baseball facilities alone priced out at $84 million in public money for the ballpark, several practice fields and a 70,000-square-foot clubhouse that will serve as the Cubs’ Western headquarters.
Mesa tacked on $15 million for infrastructure in and near the baseball facilities. And, after voters approved park-bond money in 2012, the city added $7.7 million more to turn next-door Riverview Park into a showplace with a play area designed to knock kids’ socks off.
Coming soon to a patch of ground between the park and the stadium will be the first iterations of a “Wrigleyville” commercial development with a Sheraton hotel, shopping and other amenities.
“There won’t be one single component that people will look at and say, ‘Wow, this is it,’ ” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “They’ll look and say the stadium is amazing — because it is. But when you put it in context with the park, and you see what Wrigleyville can grow into, people will finally get to see what the vision was when we first did this.”
The Cubs frequently are the top draw in the Cactus League, and reportedly generate $52 million a year in the region. It would have hurt Mesa, but also the other teams in Arizona, if the Cubs fled. Enough to justify that many million in public money for a spring training ballpark? If you have it to spend, sure! But most people probably don't.
For a point of reference, the Salt River Fields complex in Scottsdale which opened in 2011 and houses the Diamondbacks and Rockies, cost $100 million. Camelback Ranch, an even more massive complex in Glendale that houses the White Sox and Dodgers, cost $158 million and opened in 2009. But again, that's two teams. One Cubs team is plenty for Mesa.
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