SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Facilities

Cubs tie new spring home, mixed-use development in proposal

Don Muret
The city of Mesa, Ariz., and the Chicago Cubs have jointly issued a design proposal for a new $99 million spring training facility tied to a mixed-use development that would raise the bar for those MLB complexes.

The request for statement of qualifications, released Dec. 21, lists the primary design features as a 15,000-seat stadium, a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse, six full-size baseball practice fields, additional fields, covered batting tunnels and pitching mounds.

The proposal also mentions the potential for the architect to develop a master plan for future commercial and retail development, a separate piece of the project called Wrigleyville West. The Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, wants to create a similar version of the bar and restaurant district that’s across the street from Wrigley Field in Chicago.

It’s that part of the project in Mesa that would set the Cubs apart from other spring training sites in Arizona, where baseball is generally the only activity, said Michael Hallmark, an architect working on a new football stadium study for Arizona State University.

Other MLB teams have attached mixed-use to spring training with varying degrees of success. Main Street Glendale, initially part of Camelback Ranch, the two-year-old Cactus League complex shared by the Dodgers and White Sox, is in foreclosure after the primary developer defaulted on $120 million in loans.

“It will be interesting to see what happens because that site is only two miles away from Arizona State and could become part of a larger district development for them,” Hallmark said. “It’s a much smarter development than a lot of other spring training facilities.”

The 125-acre site, now a city park with ball fields and a golf course, is attractive to developers because it is near two major highways and connected to the borders of Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe, a convergence of ASU student activity, Scottsdale’s high-end hotels and Mesa’s business community, said Cubs President Crane Kenney.

“It’s ground zero with everything in one place,” said Kenney, who is to meet Tuesday with architects to discuss the project during a pre-bid meeting in Mesa.

Local voters approved two measures to help fund the project, including a 2 percent increase in Mesa hotel taxes. The Cubs, perennially the top draw in the Cactus League, have the first option to invest in developing Wrigleyville West, said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

Proposals are due Feb. 3, with presentations and a shortlist to be completed the week of Feb. 27. An architect would be selected soon after that date, with groundbreaking slated for late this summer or early fall, Smith said.

The opening is scheduled for spring training 2014.

SNEAKER CITY: The hype over the launch of the new Air Jordan XI Retro basketball shoe produced the best non-game-day sales in four years for the Charlotte Bobcats’ team store at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The NBA club rebranded its team store to sell more Jordan Brand merchandise after Michael Jordan became the
Jordan Shoe Launch First To Buy
The Charlotte Bobcats gave followers a chance to line up for some new Air Jordans.
team’s majority owner last year. As part of that effort, it was one of the few retail outlets in Charlotte allowed to sell the new shoe two days before Christmas.

The Bobcats sold all of their 100 pairs within 41 minutes after providing opportunities for 500 people among season-ticket holders, social media followers and other fans to buy the sneakers. Each person in line had to have a special platinum ticket obtained at the Bobcats-Raptors game one week before the shoe launch, said Fred Whitfield, the team’s president and chief operating officer.

The line started outside the arena about 3:30 a.m., more than 10 hours before the store opened at 2 p.m. Dec. 23, Whitfield said. Everybody in line got autographs from Bobcats players and two upper-deck tickets to the Jan. 8 game.

Overall, team store revenue is up 50 percent compared with last season.

The Bobcats plan to hold another Jordan shoe launch in mid-February.�0;0;8;

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.
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