The total cost of a new Chicago Cubs spring training complex will be capped at $99 million, according to Mesa’s latest dealings with the team.
While the city has already pledged no more than $84 million for the stadium and fields, the city has for the first time determined that related parking lots, roadwork and utility lines will cost $15 million.
That’s substantially less than the cost of some West Valley facilities built in undeveloped areas, Mesa City Manager Chris Brady said. The northwest Mesa location needs relatively few non-baseball upgrades, he said.
“We’re not spending $50 or $60 million for new roads to the site,” Brady said. “We’re getting our stadium in a well developed area of Mesa that has an abundance of infrastructure.”
Mesa has released numerous additional details of what it and the Cubs are responsible for, in advance of the Nov. 2 election that requires Mesa voter approval for the project to move forward.
One new provision requires the Cubs to base their western operations headquarters in Mesa for 30 years, rather than the 25 years that the parties initially agreed to. An option could extend that to 50 years.
Keeping the headquarters in Mesa is a major part of ensuring the new complex will remain active year-round, Brady said. He noted the team’s entire rehabilitation, minor league and scouting operations are in Mesa.
“It’s not just about spring training,” Brady said. “It’s about all these other activities.”
The city will lease land to the Cubs, rather than sell it, for greater control over the northeast Mesa site at what is now the Riverview Golf Course. The rent, which hasn’t been determined yet, will go to relocation of four baseball fields to Red Mountain Park.
Also, the city pledges to keep the facility at the forefront of the Cactus League parks — with some limitations. Mesa balked earlier this year when the Cubs requested enclosed batting cages, but the city’s agreement states Mesa is obligated to provide upgrades only if a similar amenity is in at least five other Cactus League parks. Other improvements are subject to negotiations, Brady said.
The city and Cubs have agreed to several other provisions, including:
• The stadium and ballfields will be open to the public when the Cubs aren’t using them.
• The Cubs will maintain and operate the facilities at the team’s expense. The city currently maintains Fitch Park and Hohokam Stadium.
• The team will pay for any stadium and clubhouse costs that exceed $84 million. The infrastructure improvements cannot exceed $15 million.
• The Cubs will “use their best effort” to help Mesa recruit another professional franchise to use Hohokam and Fitch for spring training.
• The Ricketts family, which owns the team, will lease land next to the stadium for the privately developed Wrigleyville West development of shops and restaurants.
The November election that Mesa voters face is Proposition 420, which authorized the city to spend more than $1.5 million on projects that include sports facilities. Also, the city is seeking a 2 percent increase in the hotel tax, with some money going to tourism promotion and the remainder to fund the new complex. Over 25 years, the tax would generate at least $12 million for the city, Brady said. The complex will be primarily funded by Mesa selling excess land it owns in Pinal County.
The city and the Cubs do not have a full site plan that’s ready to be unveiled, Brady said. The team and city will meet Monday to look closer at how to develop the land.
Also, the city has not figured out how the proposed Waveyard water park would fit. It was to include a resort and take the entire space now planned for the Cubs, but the city and Waveyard now plan a smaller, waterpark-only project of perhaps 20-25 acres, Brady said. Brady said he can’t guarantee there’s enough space but will continue to work on it.
“I’m optimistic there’s a chance and we’re looking at it,” Brady said.