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Yesterday was the official ground-breaking ceremony on the Chicago Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in Mesa, Arizona, and a variety of Arizona papers offered a take on the festivities, which sounded pretty cool.

From the East Valley Tribune:

Crammed inside a tent under a pale blue sky and unusually humid conditions, many of those officials connected to the culmination of the $99 million facility were at Mesa’s Riverview Park for the groundbreaking on Wednesday. The city said the ballpark is estimated to cost $84 million and $14 million for infrastructure and currently is $1 million under budget. Any costs over the $99 million, the Cubs have agreed to pay.

The Kellers were among more than 500 people attending the groundbreaking with Cubs co-owners Tom Ricketts and his sister, Laura, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Robert Hunt, president of Hunt Construction, David Bower of Missouri-based Populous that’s overseeing the project’s design, Mesa City Council members and members of Mesa’s Westwood Little League. Former Cubs catcher Jody Davis emceed the event.

Like a baseball game itself, attendees passed through turnstiles and were handed programs and boxes of Cracker Jack from vendors and commemorative bats and baseballs for those who tested their throwing speed at a pitching machine. Similar to a spring training game at Hohokam Stadium where the Cubs now play spring training games, the Mesa Hohokams dressed in familiar maroon polo shirts guided people where to park.

To me, that just sounds like the Cubs doing this thing right, even though it’s gotten absolutely zero press in Chicago. Make it a fun event for local Arizona folks, PR-value be damned. Well done. The East Valley Tribune piece has some quotes from Tom Ricketts as well, but it’s mostly the kind of stuff you’d expect.

AZCentral.com has some pictures of the event, if you’d like to peruse, including the obligatory shovel-digging shot featuring Tom and Laura Ricketts, as well as Mesa Mayor Scott Smith:

Separately, AZCentral.com indicated that Arizona State University, the Cubs’ would-be partner in using the finished facilities, was not present at the ground-breaking, while the two sides continue to negotiate. At last check, the two sides were really struggling to find common ground – financially – on a deal that would make sense for the Cubs’ year-round needs at the facility. According to AZCentral, a resolution could come within a few weeks, as the two sides have apparently worked out some of their issues, but nothing is guaranteed.

The Spring Training facilities are expected to be completed late next year, and be ready to go for Spring Training in 2014. The ancillary stuff – the Wrigleyville West piece, with dining, shopping, etc. – might not be completed until some time thereafter.

While it’s easy to forget, given the current Wrigley renovation impasse/hubbub, getting these new Spring facilities was and is a huge deal for the Cubs. Not only will it help them generate more revenue during Spring Training, and not only will it help optimally prepare players for the season, but it will also be a world class training facility year-round for Cubs minor leaguers and rehabbing vets. It should also be a fun place to see some Spring baseball.

  • Scotti

    Very big deal. Huge. Second only to a Wrigley renovation…

  • MightyBear

    Awesome. Great to see. Now if the Cubs can get the Wrigley project done and a new TV contract, all the pieces will be in place.

  • Kevin

    IMO, nothing will be announced about the Wrigley project during this election year. This also gives the Ricketts family time get the residents of Wrigleyville to soften the night game restrictions.

    • Pat

      I don’t see the neighborhood allowing more night games until the Cubs make good on the promises they made the last time they added night games (e.g. Triangle building).

      • Scotti

        The Triangle building will get done (as well as some type of neighborhood improvement accross the street on the McDonalds property) but NOT until the city/county/state get some skin in the game.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I know its a formality and all, but does anyone else find it tremendously corny when executives wear heard hats and shovel one shovelful of dirt? Its like, dude, you clearly didn’t do any physical work, get the hell out of there.

    • Richard Nose

      hahhaa a sweaty person in a suit. Additionally, are hard hats required to gobble dump?

      • Dumpgobbler

        It all depends, Mr. Nose. It all depends. I will say this, its not discouraged.

  • Spriggs

    Very cool! Really looking forward to the new facility. It is more important than a lot of people opposed to it realize (or will admit). Most teams are able to utilize their home city facilities for year around training needs and rehabs. Wrigley Field barely has enough room to accommodate their active roster needs. So it’s more important for the Cubs to have a state of the art “spring training facility” than other teams.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Lesbian Super PAC: Laura Ricketts, Cubs Co-Owner, Launches LPAC With Jane Lynch, Billie Jean King
    Huffington Post‎ – 1 day ago

    Some how I just knew something like this would happen with the Ricketts.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That was my initial reaction, too, until I looked into it more – it really is just a PAC to support lesbian issues, which Laura has been supporting for years. I think it has nothing to do with the anti-Obama flap.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Lots of “straight” people give money to “gay” groups, too, as a matter of principle. Yes, some people will get their knickers in a twist: but they’ll go back to pasting ochre on the cave wall…..

        • Patrick W.

          This.

      • Scotti

        Right, seems to be a natural extention of her beliefs just as the conservative PAC is of her dad’s. Personally I’d rather not know what Cub is liberal or conservative, straight or gay, etc. but I suppose they feel very strongly on these issues.

    • Patrick W.

      This comment saddens me. I’m truly dejected to see it, here.

      • Patrick W.

        Not your comment, Brett.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Idea on a big trade. Lee is unhappy in Boston!!! maybe the Cubbies trade Garza for Lee and a couple prospects. Maybe Lee would rather play in a Theo led organization? Maybe even a Dempster for Lee trade could work. Obviously Lee’s contract is something we have to take on but we have plenty of payroll room. I think Boston wanted Garza bad in the off season and they would want him bad enough to make a deal work. Maybe they want Dempster as well. I see that Upton and Greinke could be going to the Braves. That would eliminate one team with good pitching prospects that could come back to the Cubs. If Theo wanted to stick it to Cashman and the Yankee’s one last time. The Dempster/Garza deal to Boston would just about do it.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Do the Sox even have a player named Lee? (*scratches head*….)

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Well the Cubs may not be bailing on Jackson but he isn’t producing in one of the most hitter friendly leagues in minor league baseball. If he can’t handle AAA pitching he can’t handle MLB pitching. He has been hyped up because he was all the Cubs had to hype until Rizzo came along. I’m just saying he is not as good as everyone thinks and with our young OF prospects he may not even be a factor in the Front Offices plan for the future. My guess is he never gets to ML with the Cubs. He may have been good at AA but that might have been his ceiling. It happens to more players than not. The odds of getting to the MLB are not good and I don’t think he has the odds in his favor. He can’t hit AAA pitching. I don’t give crap if he walks a lot. If you can’t make contact with a baseball he won’t walk in the Majors. They will just strike his ass out all the time because they will know they can.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Define “isn’t producing”

      • Dumpgobbler

        Brett Jackson is most definately producing. Bring up the K rate as a flaw, but hes literally doing everything else well.

        • Shawn H

          Yep. In 2 seasons at AAA, he has a slash line of .274/.357/.515/.872 in 503 ABs.

    • Quintz

      On a positive note; with all the flailing he does coupled with good speed, Jackson is almost impossible to double up (5 times in 1700 at bats).

    • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

      dude……..here’s some AAA stats for the “isn’t producing” bjax:

      in 130 games between last year and this year:

      576 AB
      65 XBH-22HR-12 triples-31 doubles
      avg: .274
      obp: 357
      slg: 515
      Ops:.872
      SB: 26

      that’s better than dejesus-campy-reed-saffelt or any other guy we could have there now. he’s bjax; not ken griffey jr or even rizzo but a guy with 20-20 potential and sound D……hell yeah get him up here.

      he’s producing; he’s not babe ruth.

      also, baseball america has him rated the last 3 years:

      • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

        72, 38, 34……..it’s not just the cubs that think he has potential.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Damn it…. I meant Lester…. sorry… I had Lee on my brain. When you get old any damned name will do sometimes.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      I herd rumors about Lester too. I know he’s not too old and I think he would be a perfect fit with the Cubs. I doubt the Red-Sox are seriously considering dealing Lester, but if they are I expect the Cubs to have serious interest… I’v seen up coming free agent pitchers in 14-15, and id take Lester over almost all of them.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    when I used to get after my kids when they were acting up I would go through 6 names before I got the right one. LOL … It kept them all on their toes though. Nobody who exactly was in trouble at any given time. It’s a family joke how Dad could rattle off everyone’s name before he got the one he wanted to read the riot act too. So they all thought their butts were in the hot seat when I got home from work. I was smart enough to know that they were my kids and that they had to have gotten into some kind of trouble during the day otherwise I would have pulled the UPS man out of his truck and told him to take his kid home with him. I know that UPS man came by everyday. Half my kids are prolly his. LOL… Where was he when I paid for all of them to go through college. The Bastard

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Reads like he isn’t the bastard in this scenario….
      ;-)

    • beerhelps

      I know this seems odd coming from someone with my screen name, but, have you been drinking too much today?

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  • florida Al

    a much as i like to ear about this, and as much as i love wrigley “stadium jeff gordon” field, i would rather see a new stadium in chicago..

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