Believe it or not, Cubs fans do have something to cheer about. This morning Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts was joined by his sister Laura, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, Arizona Governor Janice Brewer and others for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Cubs Park in Mesa.
In his remarks, Kenney recounted the many roadblocks the Cubs ran into when trying to find funding for the new park. All along, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith assured the Cubs that the project would get done. And not only was it done, it was done on time and on budget.
“This new ballpark and player development facility will allow our players to better train and compete,” said Ricketts in his remarks. “To achieve our goal of winning a World Championship, we must be able to provide our players with the world class facilities they deserve.”
And not only are the players getting world class facilities that include a top-notch workout facility containing state-of-the-art exercise machines including weight lifting machines and treadmills, the facility also contains five hydrotherapy pools. One of those hydrotherapy pools contains a treadmill visible to trainers and coaches.
But today was about the park and what the fans can expect when they enter Cubs Park. While it was not purposely intended to resemble Wrigley Field, fans will be reminded of it. The video board in the outfield has a clock that looks similar to the clock on the scoreboard in Wrigley. The beams for the lights have the same arches as those in Wrigley. Behind home plate, fans will see a brick wall, which will remind them of Wrigley.
But there are other amenities that Wrigley does not have. In Arizona, all ballparks except Phoenix Municipal have berms, or lawn seating. The berm at Cubs Park is larger than the one at HoHoKam and at a better pitch so everyone should be able to see when seated. Above and a little behind the left field berm is a huge party deck, supposedly reminiscent of the rooftops across the street on Waveland. Those are accessible with a special ticket only, though the cost is the same as a lawn seat. That seating, however, does not include all you can eat and drink like the rooftops.
A party tent in right field offers another area for people to meet and enjoy the game. A citrus grove with park benches and tables will be open during games. Adjacent to the citrus grove will be food trucks that will offer cuisine not found at the concession stands in the park. Also in that same area beyond the berm, families will find a play area for children. According to a recent press release, there will be six different concession areas with different themes that will tie back either to Chicago or the Southwest.
The concourse, which is all in shade, is wide and offers views of the field no matter where you are. More than 60 percent of the bowl below the concourse will be in shade, according to the Cubs.
The park holds 15,000, but with all the different party areas and seating choices, the Cubs have been able to maintain the intimacy of a spring training park that fans have come to expect.
Opening Day at Cubs Park is Thursday, February 27. Game time is 1:05.