The Chicago Cubs aren’t certain yet whether a northwest Mesa site is big enough for their new spring training complex and the proposed Waveyard water park.
Team Chairman Tom Ricketts said Wednesday that the team wasn’t familiar enough with the needs of Waveyard, which until a week ago would have filled the entire 125-acre site at the intersection of loops 101 and 202.
After the Cubs expressed interest in the city-owned site, Mesa announced plans would begin to put both uses there. Ricketts said the site is the best place in Mesa for the new complex despite not knowing how Waveyard could fit in.
“We just don’t know,” Ricketts said. “It’s not something we’ve studied very closely.”
Ricketts spoke at a Mesa Rotary event as the team builds support for Proposition 420, which Mesa voters will consider Nov. 2. The measure allows the city to spend more than $1.5 million on a sports facility.
The stadium will cost $84 million, and the Ricketts family plans to invest additional money on a privately funded entertainment complex dubbed Wrigleyville West. The team will focus initially on the baseball components of the development and then start working on the entertainment portion, Ricketts said.
Mesa has just started to work on plans for the Cubs and Waveyard on the same site, City Manager Chris Brady said Wednesday. Brady met with an architect Wednesday to start sketching configurations.
”I think it’s going to be tight,” Brady said. “There’s not a lot of extra room.”
As part of the deal to have Waveyard share the space, the city dropped a requirement that the developer include a resort and 200,000 square feet of stores and restaurants. By building only the water park, Waveyard will need about 20-25 acres, Brady said. The Cubs will need about 100 acres.
The biggest challenge likely will be parking, Brady said. The two parties won’t have major events that overlap, so they could probably share some parking.
Brady said Mesa will develop plans quickly and see if they work for the Cubs and Waveyard.
“I’m hoping to have something next week and maybe in two or three weeks we can sit down with both sides and see if we can work this out,” he said.
The Cubs are seeking a new stadium because the current facilities at Hohokam Stadium and Fitch Park have been surpassed by other teams that hold spring training in the Valley.
Ricketts said winning a World Series after more than 100 years is his top priority, and that better facilities are essential to developing the best players.
The complex would draw more fans and tax dollars to Mesa, Ricketts said. The team will make a major investment and become more active locally under the new ownership, he said.
“We look forward to becoming a more integral part of the Mesa community,” Ricketts said.
The Cubs are the most-attended team in the Cactus League, Ricketts noted, saying they led attendance in 13 of the last 15 years. The team’s economic impact to the state was estimated at $138 million, according to a city-commissioned study.
The new complex would boost the team’s drawing power, Ricketts said. The team already has players in Mesa year-round for training, and the entertainment complex will make the facility a year-round attraction for more people, Ricketts said. He hopes the new Wrigleyville West will capture the sentiment of Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
“Everyone knows that it’s a lot more than just gong to a baseball game,” he said. “Wrigley is a special place, it’s a magical place. It’s something that you just can’t describe because it has that special feel. We want to get some of that feel in our spring training. We want to get some of that destination kind of feel to our Mesa facility.”