MESA, Ariz. — The Chicago Cubs aren’t going anywhere.
The team broke ground Wednesday on a $99 million spring
training facility in Mesa, symbolic of a years-long effort
to keep the team coming back to the East Valley every
When completed in early 2014, the project will include a
reconfigured Riverview Park near Loop 202 and 101.
“Considering how long they have been here, the Cubs are
part of our identity, our soul and culture,” Mesa Mayor
Scott Smith said. “This is a big day for the Cactus
League, Mesa and all of Arizona.”
Mesa voters approved the project by a better than 2-to-1
ratio in 2010. The stadium will hold 15,000 fans and
include a video board, shaded seats and luxury suites.
The team had threatened to move to Florida if a plan to
replace Hohokam Park wasn’t reached.
“The most exciting thing about [today’s groundbreaking] is
that the Cubs aren’t going to Naples [Florida],” said
Diane Keller, a spring training season ticket holder for
33 years. “I was so nervous about them leaving it was
giving me an ulcer.”
Smith shared similar concerns about the Cubs hitting the
“There was more than one time where I thought — in
talking with people in Chicago and Florida — that the
Cubs were gone,” Smith said. “It was the tradition of Mesa
and the Cactus League that got (Cubs Chairman Tom
Ricketts) to give us a chance.”
Spring training in Mesa has a tremendous economic impact
for the city and the state of Arizona. The Cubs generate
an economic impact of more than $130 million during spring
training while the Cactus League statewide economic impact
was north of $362 million in 2011.
The Cubs and Arizona State University are still working
out the details on the Sun Devils baseball team playing
its home games at Riverview Park. A cloud of doubt has
hovered over the tentative deal after ASU President
Michael Crow wrote an email earlier this month indicating
the Cubs are “not to be trusted.”
Smith was confident the two parties are “very close” on an
“I don’t see any big challenges that can’t be worked out.”