The Cubs joined the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants in the Cactus League in 1952. Except for 1966 when they trained in Long Beach, CA, the Cubs have been Arizona’s anchor team, and except for a stretch in Scottsdale, they have spent all of their Arizona springs in Mesa. In fact, the city has provided three different ballparks for the baby bruins; Rendezvous Park; Hohokam Park I; and Hohokam Park II. Their most recent home was constructed at a cost of $15 million and opened in 1997. Now the Cubs will be getting a new ballpark and training facility that opens in 2014. While physically there is nothing wrong with Hohokam Park, it is easy to see why the Cubs want a new home.
Looking out from the stands, the park is beautiful. It has unique dimensions and angles in the outfield, a huge scoreboard and well-kept grounds. What it doesn’t have is warmth and charm befitting spring training. The concourse is outside of the seating areas which, compared to other Cactus League parks, seem miles away from the field. Hohokam Park is much more of a mini-Major League stadium than it is a cozy spring training ballpark. Couple that with the location of the park which is across from a cemetery and has one way in and one way out, and you have one of the least attractive ballparks in the league. Even so, the Cubs set a since-broken spring training record by drawing 203,105 fans at Hohokam Park in 2009. It is a testament to the drawing power of the Cactus League’s most popular team and one reason why Mesa shelled out big bucks to keep the club from moving to Florida. With that kind of clout, the Cubs forced a deal to get their new ballpark. For this year, the Cubs will continue packing them in at Hohokam Park. The Oakland A’s are scheduled to move from Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Hohokam in 2015.
HoHoKam Park FAQs:
The Cubs began their 18-game home schedule on February 24 against the San Francisco Giants.
HoHoKam Park: 1235 North Center St.; Mesa, AZ 85201
Dimensions: LF 340’; CF 401’: RF 350’
Cubs in 2012:
Regular Season: 61-101; BA .240; HR 137; ERA 4.51
Spring Training: 17-16-2; BA .281; HR 39; ERA 4.83
Tips: Get to the park plenty early and plan on staying late. There is just one way in, one place to park, and one way out. Bring a lunch, some beverages and lawn chairs; stake out your spot and relax before game time. Save some of the goodies for after the game because you might as well have an after-game tailgate party while you wait for the parking lot to clear….If you didn’t get enough to eat before the game, try the brat with kraut. It’s one of the better Cactus League dining options.
The north side takes on the south side when the Cubs host the White on March 7. They save their best home tilts for the end of the spring when the Rangers (March 19), Angels (23), Giants (25) and Reds (26) come to Mesa. The Cubbies close the spring by hosting the Mariners on March 28 in a 12:05 start. The March 26 game against the Reds is the only game under the lights. First pitch is 7:05. All other games begin at 1:05.