The Chicago Cubs say their new Mesa stadium would capture the flavor of the iconic Wrigley Field, with the same dimensions, bleachers in the outfield and buildings peering into the park.
The team unveiled renderings Monday that give the first glimpse of the proposed spring training complex, anchored by the stadium and a privately constructed commercial development dubbed Wrigleyville West.
While the Cubs want Chicago-themed elements, team president Crane Kenney said the stadium wouldn’t be a Wrigley Field replica.
The team is working only on conceptual ideas now and doesn’t have specific site plans or tenants lined up yet, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said.
“As we’ve moved forward down this path, we’re finding that people are coming out of the woods with ideas, with question, with proposals, and we figure that the best way to let this entire process go is to let, certainly, the Wrigley development happen organically.”
The project in northwest Mesa would require moving the lake at Riverview Park, which Smith said would remain an anchor to an improved park. Some of the Wrigleyville shops and restaurants would overlook the lake, but Smith said the public would still have access to all sides of the water.
Voters will have to approve the complex Nov. 2 through Proposition 420, which allows Mesa to spend more than $1.5 million on a sports or entertainment complex. The city has capped its spring training complex spending at $84 million, and infrastructure costs at an additional $15 million.
The Cubs and their development partners would likely spend more than the $99 million taxpayers would pay, Smith said. He recognized voter anger this year but said the project’s economic impact should make voters see the money that will be invested in Mesa.
“The reason they’re in a sour mood is they want something that makes a difference in their lives,” Smith said.
The city and the Cubs have several key issues to work out before the project goes forward. The city hasn’t determined how much it will cost to move the lake and improve Riverview Park. The $15 million infrastructure estimate allows for a great deal of flexibility, Smith said, because the city has only identified about $2 million in costs so far. That should allow for park improvement funds, Smith said.
The city has not identified land on the 125-acre site for the Waveyard water park, which has rights to develop the land through July 2011. The water park could still go through and force the Cubs to move, but the city has downplayed that likelihood after officials became more skeptical about Waveyard’s ability to raise funds in a slow economy.
Kenney said Wrigleyville concepts have changed as different businesses have expressed interest, but that the baseball components are more clearly developed. The team does all its scouting, rehabilitation and minor league work in Mesa and needs more modern facilities than Hohokam Stadium or Fitch Park. Other Cactus League teams have better facilities to train players and for fans to enjoy, Kenney said, which has taken a toll on what has been the Cactus League’s most attended team.
“That lead is narrowing and what we see now is our fans enjoying our Cubs but enjoying them in other parks and we don’t want Mesa to be left behind and we don’t want to be left behind,” Kenney said.