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Volume 24 No. 159


Cubs Park puts some elements of Wrigley Field into a modern spring training facility
Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts yesterday was in Mesa, Ariz., "with several team executives for a ribbon-cutting ceremony" at Cubs Park, the team's new $84M Spring Training facility, according to Mark Gonzales of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said, "It’s easy to look here and see what we’ve accomplished. It’s been a five-year process. This just wasn’t just all an easy walk in the park. We worked." He added, "This deal lived and died nine or 10 times, but at the end of the day, we worked through it and got it done" (, 2/12). In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes Cubs and local officials were "promoting" one of the facility's "prime attributes, seats in the shade." Smith said, "Creating shade was important. ... Our fans told us the thing they appreciated most was shade, and the ability to enjoy the game without discomfort. So by the time we hit (the 1 p.m. starting time for Cactus League games), 90 percent of the stadium will be in shade. The field will be totally sun-bathed. Absolutely it was part of our design concept." Sullivan writes the Cubs "hit one out of the park with new Cubs Park." It features "some of the same elements of Wrigley Field such as the scoreboard clock, the outfield wells and the brick walls from dugout to dugout." But it is "generally in the same mode of Talking Stick," the park the Rockies and D-Backs share that is "considered the best in Arizona" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/13).

ARIZONA OASIS: Mesa city officials provided $99M in public money for Cubs Park, and Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein at yesterday's ceremony said, "You've given us the best single-team spring-training facility." He added of the new facility, "One (thing said) is, no more excuses. This place is as good as it gets. And the second is related to that: If we can’t get better here, we can’t get better anywhere." In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer writes there is "no mistaking the massive upgrades for the Cubs’ spring and year-round rehab/training facilities in Arizona on a 146-acre site that also includes a pond and planned commercial development." The "most immediate advantage over the Cubs’ previous spring facilities farther east in Mesa is that camp will no longer be split between Fitch Park and HoHoKam Stadium, about a mile apart." The ballpark has the "largest seating capacity in the Cactus League (15,000) and includes some Wrigley Field-like character" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/13). Also in Chicago, Mark Gonzales writes a "case can be made that the Cubs' best offseason addition" is the new Spring Training facility (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/13).

Palace Sports & Entertainment yesterday announced the details of the "third and final phase" of its $40M renovation project, "most notably a re-branded Palace Grille," according to Melody Baetens of the DETROIT NEWS. Among the completed improvements are "an updated 160-capacity dining space, a revamped menu and an effort to attract diners before events." Palace President & CEO Dennis Mannion said, "We want to compete with restaurants in the Birmingham and Auburn Hills area." The Pistons will "offer locally sourced menu items that may change depending on what kind of event is happening at The Palace, be it a rock concert, hip-hop show or Pistons game." Exec Chef Terrance Louzon said, "The clientele and the demographics is so much different from a concert than a game." Baetens notes here is an effort to "serve Michigan products at the bar, with 15 Michigan beers and several local wines, too." Other renovations in this third phase include "an overhaul of the 100- and 200-level suites, which have new flooring, sleek new furniture and redone terrace seating." Changes also include a "new concierge lounge for premium season ticket holders, a re-launched President’s Club for corporate meetings, entertaining and networking, updates to the Coors Light Cold Zone bar and upgrades for greater handicap access" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/13).