Smith: Mesa will celebrate opening of Cubs Park Jan. 25 - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Smith: Mesa will celebrate opening of Cubs Park Jan. 25

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Scott Smith was first elected Mayor of Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city and and the 38th largest in America, in 2008. He was re-elected (unopposed) to a second term in 2012, and was sworn in as President of the United States Conference of Mayors in June 2013.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 7:45 am

Mesa is starting the new year with the completion of one of the most exciting projects in the city’s history. On Jan. 25, Mesa will celebrate the formal opening of the new Chicago Cubs training complex, Cubs Park stadium, and a completely rebuilt Riverview Park. I am confident that Mesa residents will be proud of this amazing new signature asset for our community.

Five years ago, we learned that a group in Florida was working to lure the Cubs from Mesa, their spring home for more than 50 years. The Florida proposal was a very serious threat. We didn’t flinch at the challenge, but jumped into action to not only keep the Cubs in Mesa, but to create something special that was more than just baseball fields and a clubhouse.

With the help of some creative thinking, community input through iMesa and the overwhelming approval from Mesa voters, I am proud to say that both parks will open to the public on Jan. 25. A free grand opening celebration called “Double Play at the Park” will kick off at 2 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. We will hold a special presentation commemorating the community’s achievement at 5:45 p.m.

I invite all of Mesa and the entire Valley to come check out the new stadium and park. There will be trolley tours and self-guided walking tours of the facilities. In addition, we’ll have lots of live music, food and fun for the entire family. As an added bonus, you will be able to test out the seats inside Cubs Park and have your picture taken on the field. For the true baseball fan, there will be a card show where you can get an autograph from former Cubs and other Major League Baseball legends.

At Riverview Park, take a stroll along the beautiful new lake, which is more than twice as big as the one it replaced! Enjoy the large grassy park areas, where you can throw a Frisbee or just lounge around. Or, have the kids try out the incredible new activities area, which includes a climbing tower, bouldering wall, huge splash pad play area, and lots of other fun equipment. We didn’t forget parents, though, with plenty of tables and seating conveniently placed where they can keep a close eye on the kids. In addition, Arizona Game and Fish has stocked the lake with fish, and will provide fishing poles and bait free of charge. Best of all, you won’t need a fishing license! For the celebration, we’ll have other family activities such as bounce houses, a zip line, tethered hot air balloon rides, and so much more.

If you are anxious to get the party started, come out at noon to get a prime parking spot in our tailgating area for just $10 per vehicle. Proceeds will go to the Mesa HoHoKams to support youth sports programs.

Double Play at the Park will be a fun and exciting event for the whole family. Mesa residents made this project possible and should celebrate what the completion of this major phase means to our community. Yes, there is still more to come! In December, the Mesa City Council approved an agreement with Sheraton Hotels to build a 175-room hotel with conference center, restaurant, spa pool and bar. Construction is expected to begin this summer with hopes of being completed in early 2015. The hotel is the first part of what will become Wrigleyville West, but it certainly won’t be the last.

It is exciting to see years of work come to fruition and the dream become a reality. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in this success and I will see you on Jan. 25!

• Scott Smith has been mayor of Mesa since 2008.

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