Mesa’s Chicago Cubs complex will be constructed by the contractor who built stadiums for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Suns.
The city announced the contractor and designer of the $99 million complex on Tuesday, choosing firms experienced in major sports facilities. The selection will lead to a clearer picture of how the complex will take shape and allow crews to break ground this fall.
One key issue the city and the contractors will tackle first is defining the private Wrigleyville West. The Cubs have sold it as a cluster of shops and restaurants that baseball fans will pass through to enter the stadium — but it hasn’t been defined much beyond that.
Mayor Scott Smith said Wrigleyville will develop over several years but that having designers on board is critical to identifying its features. Detailed plans for the entire site should become public in the next few months.
“You’ll see some things developing during the summer,” Smith said.
Mesa chose Populous of Kansas City, Mo., as the designer. It’s worked on 118 ballparks that include spring training complexes in Goodyear, Peoria, Surprise and Mesa’s current Cubs facilities. It was formerly known as HOK Sport and will work with several local design and engineering firms.
“They are very, very experienced and well known and well regarded through the county,” Smith said.
The complex will be built by the Scottsdale-based Hunt Construction Group. Its projects include Chase Field, the US Airways Center, University of Phoenix Stadium and 13 Mayor League Baseball stadiums.
A panel of three Cubs executives and three Mesa officials chose the winners from among multiple bidders. No elected officials were involved during the process, Smith said.
Mesa hasn’t yet signed a final agreement with the Cubs to build the 100-acre complex at the southeast corner of the Loop 101 and 202 freeways. Smith said the contractors had to be selected first so they can have more than a conceptual design. That allows the key players to decide which of them should design — and own — components like the public plaza.
The stadium and ballfields will be the easiest part to design, Smith said. The bigger focus will be rebuilding Riverview Park and making sure all the complex’s elements tie together seamlessly. The city wants it to become a destination that’s about more than seeing a game or going to a specific business.
“The idea is we’re not going to build a stadium that’s spectacular,” Smith said. “We’re going to build an experience that’s spectacular.”
The Cubs had initially envisioned the new complex would be ready for spring training in 2013, but Smith said they’re now aiming for 2014. That would allow for a soft opening in mid-2013 and provide extra time to adjust the design if problems arise. The city wants to avoid repeating the experiences of other stadiums that were built on extremely tight deadlines, Smith said.
“What you find out is that you make mistakes, and those mistakes are costly,” he said.
The Cubs also have the luxury of continuing to use Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium and Fitch Park until the new facility is ready, unlike many teams that had to move because of expiring contracts.
Mesa has pledged up to $84 million for the stadium and practice fields, and another $15 million for related infrastructure. Voters approved use of city funds in a November election.
The site design includes defining a roughly 25-acre parcel for the Waveyard water park that once would have spanned the entire area. Mesa and Waveyard ended their development agreement this month after the park’s developer was unable to secure financing and began working on a smaller version of the concept. If Waveyard doesn’t come to fruition, the city would contemplate another private development.
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