Event in Mesa to celebrate openings of Cubs, Riverview parks - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Event in Mesa to celebrate openings of Cubs, Riverview parks

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Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014 4:30 pm

Residents of Mesa can get their first taste of two of the city’s newest public facilities during a special opening event on Jan. 25.

The free event, called Double Play at the Park, commemorates the opening of the new spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs and the launch of Riverview Park adjacent to the ballpark, both of which were paid for in part by voter-approved bonds.

“Wow! I hope they walk in there and say, ‘Wow.’ I hope this is a public park nobody has ever seen,” said Mesa Parks, Recreation and Commercial Facilities Director Marc Heirshberg.

Double Play at the Park will feature self-guided and trolley tours of the ballpark, live music, bounce houses, a zip line, tethered hot air balloon rides, and a card show highlighted by visits from former Cubs’ All-Star Bill Madlock and Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Michael Floyd.

Arizona Game and Fish will host a free fishing session at the lake, and visitors can pay $10 to tailgate at the Cubs Park between noon and 6 p.m.

Attendees of the event, which will be from 2 to 6 p.m., will get to see a pair of projects that have been in the works since 2010. The part of the project that has garnered the most attention is the spring training facility, Cubs Park. Built as part of a public-private partnership between the city and the team, the complex has a player development facility, batting cages, half fields for practice and other amenities to serve the Cubs during spring training, instructional play, and the Arizona Fall League.

But the Riverview Park portion could have a larger effect on the day-to-day lives of Mesa’s residents, given the slew of amenities that part of the project has to offer. There’s the lake mentioned earlier that offers residents a place to fish, a splash pad, play equipment, an observation hill and a 300-foot rock climbing wall Heirshberg said fits right into the park’s hills.

None of that includes what could be Riverview Park’s defining feature: a 50-foot climbing tower Heirshberg said is the largest of its kind in the world and could become a trend-setter for other parks.

Given all of Riverview’s and Cubs Park’s features, as well as the five-year gap between voters approving the bonds and its opening, it makes sense that Heirshberg is excited to open up the two new parks.

“It’s kind of like going back to Christmas morning and being a kid; we’ve been talking about it and talking about it and talking about it and you just want to open it and let everyone in,” he said.

Visit mesaaz.gov/doubleplay for more information about the event.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com.

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