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Updated Feb 12, 2014 - 10:01 am

Cubs cut the ribbon on new stadium in Mesa

MESA, Ariz. -- The lights were on before dawn as crews prepped for the 10 a.m. grand opening ceremony Wednesday of their new spring training home.

Cubs Park, near Dobson Road and Loop 202, seats 15,000 and has features that resemble Wrigley Field in Chicago, including a brick wall behind home plate and an old-school clock on the outfield scoreboard.

But it also has a Cactus League feel, too, including a grassy area beyond the outfield fences for fans and a party deck in left field.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the Cubs generate about $130 million each year for the Valley and the facility goes beyond baseball.

"This is big business. Spring training is really not about baseball: it's about tourism and it's a major driver in our economy and baseball just happens to be the vehicle," Smith said.

Robert Johnson with the Cactus League Baseball Association said spring training is more than just great baseball. It pumps almost $650 million into our economy each year.

"Spring training is an industry in Arizona," he said. "It's a staple of our economy. It's as big as cattle, copper and cotton. It's bigger than the Super Bowl every year."

The 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale pumped an estimated $550 million in Arizona's economy.

The home opener is Feb. 27 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Right after spring training ends, ground will be broken on a Sheraton hotel just east of the stadium. The goal is to have it open by spring training 2015.

Mesa will add another team to its spring training lineup next year when the Oakland A's move into the Cubs' old home at Hohokam Stadium.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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