The Cubs "hosted a media preview on Thursday" for their new Spring Training facility in Mesa, which is set to open next spring, according to Jim Walsh of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Cubs GM/Spring Training Business Operations Justin Piper said that the new facility includes a 15,000-seat ballpark, with "light towers similar to those at the iconic Wrigley Field in Chicago, a large center-field berm capable of seating about 4,000 fans and a large left-field party deck with a bird’s-eye view of the ballpark below." The ballpark is "designed to maximize shade, with about half the seats blocked from March’s sometimes sizzling rays by a cantilever roof patterned after Wrigley Field." The facility also boasts a 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clubhouse that is "more than double the size" of the Cubs' former clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. The $84M project is "expected to be completed by the end of" '13. Piper: "It really is a world-class facility with modern training facilities and hydrotherapy. It really is going to be a year-round hub for the Cubs" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/11).
In San Diego, Lori Weisberg noted the California Coastal Commission on Thursday, "overriding the objections of its own staff," cleared the way for a $520M expansion of the city's convention center. With the project ready to move forward, "questions linger about a competing project" from the Chargers, who had "opposed the city project and instead proposed incorporating convention facilities into a new stadium six blocks away in downtown's East Village." City leaders, while "welcoming a new stadium proposal, have argued all along that the expansion had to be contiguous to the existing center to meet the needs of conventioneers who don't want to walk to a more distant location" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 10/10).
SURVEYING THE FIELD: In DC, Jonathan O'Connell reported advocates from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute have "put together an early coalition of progressive activists, unions and Southwest residents to question" DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s plan to "pay for about half the cost of a new stadium" for MLS DC United on Buzzard Point. Under the mayor’s plan, DC would contribute as much as $150M "of land and infrastructure, about half the cost of a 20,000-seat stadium." DCFPI Exec Dir Ed Lazere said that he and his staff "aren’t hearing a lot of support for the mayor’s plan thus far, in part because" MLS is "not as popular a league" as MLB (WASHINGTON POST, 10/10).
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Bristol Motor Speedway hosting a Virginia Tech-Tennessee football game in '16 is a "brilliant idea," as it will be the "college football equivalent of the Winter Classic" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/10). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez asked, "When is enough enough? I've been in Neyland Stadium when it had 110,000 people. It felt like it was going to fall over. What's the difference between that and 160,000? Is anybody going to be able to feel the difference?" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/10). SI’s Lee Jenkins: “The confluence of SEC football and NASCAR it is going to make for some incredible crowd shots” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 10/10).