10/10/2013 6:53 P.M. ET
Cubs' new Spring Training home making progress
Brand new ballpark in Mesa expected to be completed by December
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Most of the weight equipment is in place, the whirlpools are being tested, and the sprinklers are spraying new grass nearly non-stop. The Cubs' new Spring Training headquarters in west Mesa is nearly ready for its occupants.
More than one year since groundbreaking on July 11, 2012, the Cubs' 140-acre facility is expected to be open for business on Nov. 1 for a mini camp. The site, which was formerly the Riverview golf course, is located near the intersection of highways 101 and 202 and bordered on the south by the Rio Salado Parkway.
Fans will appreciate the new yet-to-be-named ballpark that will seat 14,000-15,000 people, and include a left field party deck and right field berm area. There is plenty of shade and sun, depending on your preference.
The stadium, which should be completed by December, is reminiscent of Wrigley Field, but not a replica. The dark green light towers will look familiar to anyone who has seen the Cubs' home ballpark in Chicago as well as some of the metalwork that rims the outside of the upper deck. But parts of the structure are a sun-dried tomato red color, which blends in well with the Arizona setting.
The video scoreboard had yet to be installed on Thursday, when the Cubs hosted a media tour of the site. Once added it will help block out the view of a water treatment facility next to the site.
The Cubs players will be more interested in the 70,000-square foot player development building, which will be the largest in the Cactus League. It includes clubhouses for the Major League and Minor League players, a 120-seat theater for meetings, a two-level workout area, and upgraded athletic training facilities that include four whirlpools and a hydrotherapy pool.
The upper level of the workout area has plenty of stationary bicycles and players can either watch television or look out the windows at the nearby McDowell mountains. The Cubs anticipate the facility to be used year-round and not just for Spring Training. Players who live in the area in the offseason can train at the site, which will be the home for the Cubs' Arizona Rookie League team and a 2014 Arizona Fall League team.
"This will be a hub for the Cubs year-round," said Justin Piper, general manager of the facility.
There are 12 covered batting cages and a video area. Besides the stadium, there are four practice fields, plus two more Major League diamonds, and a half-field.
A path lined with dwarf oleander plants connects the building with the stadium, which is how the players will get to work. Piper said the hope is that fans can watch workouts prior to games and see the players as they head to the stadium.
One of the parking areas is on a grassy field which will be perfect for tailgating, Piper said.
The Cubs have been at their current HoHoKam Park site in Mesa since 1979. The Minor League players would train at Fitch Park, which is south of the stadium a few blocks on Center Street. Now, the Major League and Minor League players will be under the same roof.
Will all the improvements result in a World Series winner?
"You'll have to ask our baseball folks that," Piper said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.