After months of construction, the Chicago Cubs’ new spring training facility in Mesa is just two months away from full completion, and residents could get in for a preview of what to expect next spring in the near future.
Built in part with taxpayer funds — voters approved a measure for the city to contribute a maximum of $99 million to the project back in 2010, including $84 million for the stadium and $15 million for infrastructure — the Cubs will run the stadium and other accouterments like the player development facility, indoor batting cage, mini field for infield practice and two full-sized fields. The facility is located near Rio Salado Drive and Dobson Road, and the city will control the neighboring Riverview Park; the park will feature a lake for fishing and climbing walls, among other attractions.
Throughout the project, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the construction was on-time and consistently on track to open this winter. General Manager of Spring Training Operations Justin Piper concurred with Smith’s assessment, saying during a tour on Oct. 10 the stadium is the Cubs anticipate a completion date of Dec. 1.
However, he said the Cubs’ player development facility should complete construction by the beginning of November. That facility, which is a short walk away from the stadium, is a touch shy of 70,000 sq. feet and has exercise equipment, pools for rehabilitation and training, classrooms for video review and instruction and a locker room for minor league players. The facility also has a two floor training facility split by weights and aerobic exercise equipment.
Adjacent to the development facility is an indoor batting cage with 12 batting tunnels for players to use between games. Situated near the area is a half field used for infield drills and two major league fields, and all of the items will be used throughout the year during spring training, rehabilitation, the Arizona Fall League and instructional league play.
To go from the training areas to the stadium, players walk along a path that will take them past an open field designed for fans to tailgate prior to games.
“It’ll be one of the unique features of spring training,” Piper said.
Seating estimates for the stadium are for about 15,000 fans, which Piper said would make it the largest in the Cactus League. It was also designed to ensure watching a game late in the training season is a comfortable experience for fans.
“Shade was a big factor taken into account,” he said.
Fans who visit from Chicago should get a familiar vibe from certain features of the stadium, including the lights and grass berm meant to imitate Wrigley Field. But Piper said the new stadium also has a southwest feel to it, which he said provides a nice blend of the two.
After the stadium is finished, Piper said the team will hold events like an open house for community members to take a tour and get a sneak peek at the field’s cozy vibe.
“It’s a very intimate feel,” he said.
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