A renovated HoHoKam Park or a new facility by the airport will be on the agenda as the Cubs and Mesa officials discuss the future.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, City Manager Chris Brady and Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams -- a Republican from Mesa -- will travel to Chicago, take in a game at Wrigley Field and get a feel from Cubs officials on what they want to see in spring-training facilities. Currently the Cubs train at Fitch Park and play games at HoHoKam Park, and while there's nothing wrong with either facility, they're far from state of the art. With the Cubs a hot draw during spring training, there's probably more money to be made with a newer facility, and the Cubs would probably like to see a facility where training fields and the ballpark are integrated on one site.
The Cubs have indicated they'll take advantage of an out clause in their HoHoKam lease in the coming year, making discussions necessary. But this doesn't mean the Cubs are looking to leave Mesa; we hear the team would like to stay in Mesa, preferably in a situation where there's more revenue potential. Whether that means renovated HoHoKam Park or building a new facility near the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport remains to be seen. And it may be too early for anyone with the Cubs to make any kind of decision on the future of spring training: the Ricketts family only took control of the team last week.
One warning: the timing is pretty bad for the Cubs to be seeking a new facility. The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which has funded many spring-training facilities across Phoenix, is tapped out for the next few years. We're also guessing the Cubs aren't too interested in springing for much of the cost of a new facility, either. That leaves Mesa in the position of finding funding for renovations or new construction.
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