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New stadium could combine college, Major-league baseball

The Chicago Cubs spring training facility started construction and renovation at the Riverview Park in Mesa on Wednesday. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)
The Chicago Cubs spring training facility started construction and renovation at the Riverview Park in Mesa on Wednesday. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)

The City of Mesa and the Chicago Cubs broke ground Wednesday on a collaborative project to build a new, state-of-the-art complex that will include the spring training headquarters of the Major-league team and the potential future home of the ASU baseball team.

The project is a result of two years of planning between the City of Mesa and the Cubs, which have been partners since 1952. The $99 million, 96-acre development was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2010 after deliberations on finances and economic impact.

The Cubs and the Sun Devils have shared practice space on occasion at Hohokam Park in the past, though not under any official agreement.

According to a news release from the City of Mesa, the Cubs stadium will have seating for 15,000 fans, a video board, shaded seats and luxury suites in addition to concessions and restrooms.

The rest of the complex includes a shared playing field, seven full-sized practice fields – one of which would be used exclusively by ASU – and one infield-only natural turf practice field. There will also be updated recreational and commercial opportunities for Mesa’s Riverview area.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said the new ballpark will capture the essence of Wrigley Field.

“In addition to providing a great day of game experience, the Chicago Cubs are committed to having the best player development organization in all of baseball,” he said. “Critical to building that system is to have the best in-class facilities where we can develop our players year-round and develop the tools and the resources they need to be the best players they can be."

The major development will also revamp Mesa’s Riverview Park. Mesa Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Member Mark Yarbrough said the lake on the site, which was formerly Riverview Golf Course, will be expanded to continue urban fishing in Mesa in addition to providing irrigation for the city. Shaded and unshaded grassy areas, play areas and a water feature are planned as well.

“As we begin construction of this new facility, we will also begin the transformation of Riverview Park,” Yarbrough said.

David Bower, principal of the architecture firm that designed the stadium, said the design concepts of the complex go beyond the economic value the new complex will have for the city and the state.

“Gathering with your friends and family is very important to us as individuals, so as the designer, we wanted to make sure that was important in the facility we designed,” Bower said.

According to the news release from the City of Mesa, the Sun Devils’ presence will bring the “exciting atmosphere that goes with college baseball” to the complex, along with increased revenues and exposure that can attract players.

The University said in a statement that ASU is still negotiating with the Cubs and the City of Mesa about a partnership for the new ballpark.

“We are hopeful to have a resolution at some point in the near future,” the statement said. Neither ASU officials nor the Sun Devil baseball team were present at the groundbreaking.

Construction on the stadium will be completed by the end of 2013, and will be open for practice in February 2014.


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