2/12/2014 12:58 P.M. ET
Cubs Park dedicated in Mesa, ready for Spring Training's first pitch
New ballpark and player development facility largest in Cactus League
By / MLB.com
The Chicago Cubs and City of Mesa today celebrated the completion of a unique public-private partnership that delivered a state-of-the-art ballpark, two-story player development facility and a rebuilt and enhanced Riverview Park on a 146-acre site -- making the development the first and largest of its kind in the Cactus League.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the recently named Cubs Park, Cubs board members Tom and Laura Ricketts, front office executives Crane Kenney and Theo Epstein and Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins joined a host of State and City officials including Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, City Manager Chris Brady, City Councilmen Dave Richins and Dennis Kavanaugh whose districts include or border Cubs Park, as well as other members of the Mesa City Council who were supportive of the development project.
The new Spring Training facility was built in just 15 months by Hunt Construction Group and Populous.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said the new Spring Training facility will dramatically improve player training and development and provide the team with a competitive advantage.
"This new ballpark and player development facility will allow our players to better train and compete," said Tom Ricketts. "To achieve our goal of winning a World Championship, we must be able to provide our players with the world-class facilities they deserve."
The new ballpark's seating capacity of 15,000 is the largest in the Cactus League, and the park is anticipated to be one of the biggest attractions during Spring Training.
Mayor Scott Smith said the new Cubs Spring Training facility and Riverview Park will be a boon to economic development for Mesa.
"The new Cubs Park and Riverview Park will provide a Spring Training experience like no other in Major League Baseball," Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. "The two parks are connected by a palm tree lined paseo with opportunities for retail, restaurant and hotel development on either side. Mesa calls March our second Christmas when it comes to sales tax numbers due to the influx of Spring Training spending. I can't think of a better way to support the economy than to build on our success and develop the parks into a destination for all to play and stay."
Spring Training in Mesa has a tremendous economic impact for the City and the State of Arizona. A 2010 report prepared by EDP & Co stated the Cubs generate an economic impact of nearly $138 million to the state during Spring Training, while a recent study by FMR Associates of Tucson estimated the Cactus League delivers $422 million of direct economic benefit to the state.
"Experiencing Spring Training in Arizona is simply unparalleled, thanks to our pristine weather, countless tourist attractions and some of the best baseball fans in the nation," said Governor Brewer. "The Cactus League and the Chicago Cubs have been a tremendous part of our longstanding and cherished tradition -- drawing visitors from across the nation each year to enjoy America's favorite pastime in Arizona. I'm proud to welcome the Cubs and their fans to their second home every spring, and I know that they will be thrilled with the new Cubs Park right here in Mesa!"
To grow the City's economic return, the Cubs are collaborating with the City of Mesa to help create additional development opportunities near the ballpark. Last December, the City of Mesa and Yost Development recently announced a plan to build a 170-room Sheraton hotel north of Cubs Park.
Existing businesses in the area will also experience a boost by having Cubs Park in one of Mesa's important business corridors.
District 1 Councilman Dave Richins said Cubs and baseball fans traveling to the area with families will help drive local business.
"Baseball fans from around the country will come to see Cubs Park and will help put the "T" in Mesa's HEAT initiative by attracting added tourism related business to Mesa," said Richins. "Already, we see people from all over the valley coming to Riverview Park which will quickly become a destination for residents and visitors to eat, shop, stay and play."
Cubs Park Features
When Cubs fans enter the ballpark for the first time, they will notice a few features reminiscent of Wrigley Field, including the brick wall behind home plate, green scoreboard with the Wrigley Field-style clock, arched steel work on the light standards and cantilevered roofs. A replica of the Wrigley Field Marquee is located in the main concourse where fans can pose for a photo with their own name digitally displayed on the sign.
Inside the seating bowl, more than 60 percent of the seats are shaded from the Valley sun though fans looking to bask in the sunlight can purchase general admission lawn tickets to watch the game from the spacious outfield berm.
Throughout the bowl, there are a number of party and patio decks that allow fans and groups to take in different views and experiences of the action on the field. In left field, the Cubs have partnered with Budweiser to unveil a new EIGHTEEN | 76 viewing area, which features bleachers and high-top tables to remind fans of the Wrigley Field Budweiser Bleachers experience. There are also party decks located on the first and third base sides of the ballpark. Near the right field gate, there will be a party/tent bar for fans who want to watch the game from above the outfield playing area.
To further enhance the fan experience, the Cubs have partnered with Ovations Food Service to create a variety of food offerings. There will be six different concession areas each with a separate theme that ties back to either Chicago or the Southwest.
Behind the lawn seating, a citrus grove with picnic tables and a small field serve as a family and children's play area. The Cubs also will have food trucks in this area to compliment ballpark fare with unique or specialty offerings on game days only.
Player Development Center
Cubs players will be introduced to a new player development center which will feature a two-story weight and cardiovascular facility, hydrotherapy room, a 120-seat theater, family waiting room and cafeteria. The major league clubhouse features a football-shaped locker room with 68 lockers and a lounge area, while the minor league clubhouse features 206 lockers to accommodate players training year-round.
In addition to the player development center, the training facility includes 12 covered batting tunnels and two groups of 12-mound bullpens, six full-size practice fields and one half-size field for infield practice, as well as other specialized training areas.
Cubs Thank Residents of Mesa
Tom Ricketts reiterated this project would not have happened without the full support of Mesa. The $99 million project was approved overwhelmingly by Mesa voters in 2010. As part of the deal, the Cubs will remain in Mesa for the next 30 years.
"We are thankful to the residents and City of Mesa for their support," said Ricketts. "We look forward to making Mesa our home for many years to come."
Funding for construction of the Spring Training facilities originated from Mesa's Enterprise Fund. No new taxes were imposed on Mesa residents to pay for the ballpark or other new facilities.
The first game at Cubs Park is Thursday, Feb. 27, at 1:05 p.m. when the Chicago Cubs open their inaugural season at Cubs Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lawn tickets on the outfield berm are still available. Tickets may be purchased over the phone by dialing 1-800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827) or online by visiting www.cubs.com.
"We are very excited the great tradition of Cubs baseball will continue in Mesa with a new ballpark that will provide our players access to a great facility year round while offering the best fan experience possible to visitors and residents," concluded Ricketts.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.