According to multiple reports on Wednesday, the Cubs officially announced they will keep their Spring Training home in Mesa, Arizona. The announcement on Wednesday begins an exclusive negotiating period with the city that could take as long as a year to finalize.
“The deal with the Cubs and the city still requires the Arizona Legislature and voters in Mesa to approve funding mechanism for an $84 million stadium and training facility.”
The Cubs are envisioning a full entertainment district with bars restaurants and stores. The project has been dubbed “Wrigleyville West.” From Tom Ricketts in the Associated Press report:
“We’ve been in Arizona for 57 years and we look forward to the next 57 years.”
The new agreement between the Chicago Cubs and the city of Mesa will keep the team in the area for the next 25 years.
The team will buy the land and donate it to the city, which plans to build a 15,000-seat stadium and a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse with locker rooms, a nutritional center and other amenities.
The stadium is set to open in 2013. The team will manage it, have naming rights and control of signage, and won’t have to share the facility with another team. Adjacent practice fields will be a public park when the Cubs aren’t training.
City officials hope the area will develop into what they’re calling “Wrigleyville West,” an entertainment district with bars, restaurants and stores.
Funding details were sketchy Wednesday as officials said they were still making a plan. Rep. John McComish, a Phoenix Republican who says he will introduce the legislation when it’s ready, said it will include a surcharge on spring training game ticket sales and will not draw from general fund revenue.
He declined to discuss other options being discussed.
The agreement means the Cubs will negotiate exclusively with Mesa. But the team will be allowed to back out if legislation isn’t enacted by July 12 or if Mesa voters reject it in a November election.
The Mesa City Council unanimously approved the agreement on Monday.
“The team in Naples did a great job through some polling and Web sites to impress on us the support there is,” Cubs president Crane Kenney said. “But Arizona has become really sort of the second home for the Cubs and it certainly was a factor.”