Mesa hasn't heard much lately from the developers of the proposed Waveyard water park, but plenty of other prominent entertainment operators have been talking with the city about a project next to the new Chicago Cubs complex.
Mayor Scott Smith said the operators are pitching ideas for family-friendly destinations on about 25 acres next to the Cubs facility that's slated to open in 2013. The companies are "substantial" names in their industry and would bring entirely new developments to Arizona, he said. None of them operate anything similar in the state now.
"That's what excites us," Smith said. "We believe that we could do something here that's special, that's different."
The land is currently ball fields at the southeast corner of the Loop 101 and Loop 202 freeways. About 100 adjacent acres of the current Riverview Park will become the new spring training home of the Cubs. The city expects to break ground late this year or early next year.
Waveyard had initially inked a deal with the city for a water park and resort on the entire site but scaled back plans after not being able to fund the plan. Waveyard welcomed the Cubs taking control of the city-owned land to work on a smaller park. It missed a deadline this summer to submit plans, which leaves the city open to consider other projects.
Smith said he's fine with leaving the ball fields in place as the Cubs complex goes in. He stressed talks with other operators are very preliminary and that Waveyard is still interested.
"We're not rushing to get anything done there," Smith said. "We want to do something right. We believe that it will be one of the premiere real estate sites in the entire Valley and it only gets more and more valuable with each day."
Mesa is finalizing its agreement with the Cubs and expects to approve it in mid-September, Smith said. The City Council reviewed it in a closed-door session and had minimal feedback, he said.
Once that and a final site plan are approved, the city can gear up for construction. Also, the site plan gives the Cubs something concrete to show potential tenants of the Wrigleyville West district of shops and restaurants. Smith expects that by the time spring training rolls around, the Cubs will name some Wrigleyville tenants.
The Cubs complex is estimated to cost $99 million - $84 million for the stadium and fields and $15 million for infrastructure. The Cubs will finance the Wrigleyville West district that fans will pass through as they enter the stadium.
Also, the Cubs are negotiating with Arizona State University to also host Sun Devils baseball. ASU would contribute $2 million for the cost of an additional field and clubhouse.
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