The GM Meetings begin on Monday in Chicago and runs through Wednesday (November 9 – 11), so the Hot Stove should have plenty of rumors to discuss over the next week. The general manager meetings are typically when trades for the winter are first discussed, but rarely made. With all of the action since the Yankees hoisted the trophy, no one is sure what will happen in Chicago this week.
The Ricketts family spent time last week while they were in Mesa for the organizational meetings touring various sites in the area. Many feel the Cubs would not leave Arizona and are using Florida as a negotiating ploy to gain more leverage to get what they need in, or near, the Mesa area. But not so fast … Beginning in 2010 both the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League will have 15 teams (the Reds are moving their spring training site from Florida to Goodyear and will share the new facilities with the Indians). At least one team a day will have to field a split squad in order to have enough competition in both areas. While several teams have made the move from Florida to Arizona, the groups in the Sunshine State would like to lure the Cubs to Florida.
As Bruce Levine pointed out, the Ricketts family has no ties to Arizona and had not been in the state before last week. The Cubs are wanting a state of the art facilities and looking to build a “Wrigley Field West” or a “Wrigley Field South.”
Levine reported, “Part of the Cubs’ overall plan is to build a Wrigley Field South or a Wrigley Field West, which would include the best of the atmosphere of Wrigleyville and a state-of-the-art baseball complex and an entertainment area. The vision of the Cubs is to have a walking community around the complex, where Cubs fans could get off the plane, drive to the complex and have all of the hotels, restaurants and bars accessible within a few blocks of the ballpark itself.”
The Ricketts family would like to build a 15,000 – 18,000 seat complex, which would be the largest spring training facility in baseball. The Cubs have been training in the Phoenix area (Scottsdale and Mesa) since 1952 … and are, by far, the biggest draw of any team in Arizona. The Cubs’ facilities at HoHoKam and Fitch Park are behind the newer complexes in the area … and the team is in need, and has the leverage, to demand updated facilities.
Travel time between facilities has been an obstacle in Florida. While the Red Sox and Twins would be within 15 minutes of the area in Naples that the Cubs are looking at, the other teams are anywhere between an hour and three hours away. For comparison, most of the teams in the Cactus League are within 30 minutes.
For those that thought the Cubs remaining in Arizona was a slam-dunk, think again. The Cubs have an opt-out in their contract that would allow them to relocate after 2011 … and be in new facilities by 2012. The Cubs have a new owner “that could be thinking of making a new start and building a new tradition by moving spring training to Florida.”
Stay Tuned …