In 2014, a new “friendly confines” popped up in the Arizona desert where the Chicago Cubs now conduct spring training. This new complex consists of a main ballpark, a large training facility and seven practice fields. Building upon their 50-year relationship, the project was a collaboration between the City of Mesa and the Chicago Cubs. The new agreement seals this private-public partnership for an additional thirty years.
As one of the most popular major league teams, the Cubs are a huge draw in Arizona and the new stadium should be able to accommodate the annual influx of “Cubbie” fans for years to come.
Reminiscent of Wrigley Field, the new venue also has a cantilevered roof and upper deck, designed so that 60% of the stadium seats remain in the shade during a day game. And a replica of Wrigley Field’s familiar red marquee “Home of the Cubs” sign has been erected near the entrance and it quickly became a favorite photographic focal point.
In January, 2015, the naming rights to the field was awarded to Sloan Valve Corporation, a long-time Chicago company, for ten years at an annual cost reputed to be “in seven figures”. Sloan Field or Cubs Field, as it had been called, is now the largest spring training stadium in baseball with seating for 15,000. The oversized berm provides plenty of lawn seating for fans to view the game from the outfield at a reduced price. Additionally the Cubs have added a park to the 146-acre property and have configured additional greenspace for an innovative children’s playground and a landscaped lake setting.
After Spring Training is over, the complex will be host to the Cubs of the Arizona League and the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. The training center will also provide rehabilitation and strengthening facilities for the organization’s injured players.
With ten modern stadiums and complexes circling the Phoenix area, the annual influx of fans has provided a huge economic benefit to the hotels, rental homes, resorts, restaurants, golf courses and other visitor attractions. The concentration of exactly one-half of the Major League teams into a relatively small area allows for each team to see a greater variety of top-notch pitching and talent and for the fans to have a wide choice of teams to watch. The weather is almost always perfect with very few rainouts.
Whether you are seven or seventy, there is no greater enjoyment and relaxation than walking among the manicured practice fields in the morning on a perfect March day. Here you have the chance to see prospects and superstars close up. You can watch intra-squad games and drills with all of your favorite players from a vantage point as close as at a high school game. You might even catch a few autographs at the end of the practice sessions. This is a wonderful family experience.
And on any afternoon or night you can go to any of ten different modern and beautiful ballparks to cheer for your favorite team with the same zeal as you do in midseason.
The ball parks and training facilities provide a real “big-league” experience while maintaining an intimacy not available during the regular season. Within one hour any visitor to the area can go from any ballpark to any other one. This is a treat for a real baseball fan, an opportunity to see players and teams that they would otherwise not see during the regular season.
Watching your team up close and personal at their Spring Training facilities also makes you feel closer to the players, a feeling that will stay with you through the season. A few days around the training facilities and the stadium will impart the feeling of “knowing” the players and, as younger ones begin to take their place among the veterans, you will sense the joy that they feel as they have finally reached the “show”.
Since 1952 when the Cubs came to Arizona to train in Mesa’s Rendezvous Park, much has changed. More clubs eventually followed and new parks have been built, each one seeming a little nicer than the one before. The Cubs’ newest facility in Mesa will be one of the best for a long time.
The new Cubs Stadium is located at:
2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway Mesa, AZ 85201