Mesa officials have released the first site plan for the Wrigleyville West development, which will be the future home of the Chicago Cubs’ Spring Training.

The development is intended to be a destination for tourists who want to enjoy not only the Cubs in Spring Training, but also a broader Cubs-based experience. For those who have made the trip to Hohokam Park in Mesa to see the Cubs train, you can probably understand why the Cubs would like to upgrade not only the facilities, but the surrounding area. That’s not a shot at the current area; just an acknowledgement that, beyond watching the Cubs, there isn’t a whole lot to do.

As for the first-released plans, it looks like the development going to start out a bit smaller than previously anticipated, but with plenty of room for expansion.

Plans show a plaza at the stadium’s entrance and soccer fields where the team will build the privately funded Wrigleyville. The Cubs are negotiating with potential tenants and can construct buildings quickly even if specifics aren’t in place yet, Smith said. The district footprint is modest but could include substantial development if buildings go vertical, he said.

“It is small but it’s very high-density,” Smith said. “The idea is to attract people to a very small urban place.”

The stadium will sit roughly in the middle of the mile-wide site on Eighth Street that spans from Dobson Road to the Loop 101. Practice fields will flank the stadium’s west side. Wrigleyville is situated immediately to the east and a revamped Riverview Park will link the entertainment district to Dobson.

A broad path — or possibly a road — will serve as a gateway as patrons walk from Dobson to the stadium.

The area set aside for Wrigleyville will initially be developed as grass field on about 26 acres. The path eventually will be lined with shops that Smith envisions as something resembling the Kierland Commons shopping center or Santan Village in Gilbert.

The Cubs will have immediate access to 3 acres for commercial development, City Manager Chris Brady said. After that’s developed, the team has options on another 3 acres. Eventually, the entire 26 acres could be developed.

Mesa will give the Cubs the first option to develop property if it meets deadlines, but the specifics are under negotiation. The sides plan to finalize three agreements in deal the City Council will vote on Sept. 26. The deals cover the site’s development, facility use and options for selling property to the team.

The conceptual plans also include a grander Riverview Park. Ideas include a tower visible from nearby freeways to boost the area’s profile, water features, play areas and artistic shading structures.

There are many more details (and a larger version of the picture) at the link. It sounds like developers – and the Cubs – have the right idea: (1) improve the actual training facilities for Cubs players and staff, (2) improve the game-viewing experience for fans, and (3) give fans something enjoyable to do before/after the game, so that they can make a day of the experience. I’m looking forward to checking out Wrigleyville West when it’s finally completed.

The complex is expected to be open in 2013, but may not be ready for Spring Training until 2014.



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