Go Cubs Go or 'Stay Cubs Stay?'
Mesa man sings parody, Naples insults
Mesa officials will gather at the state Capitol Wednesday morning to announce the Chicago Cubs are staying in Arizona.
The event will include Gov. Jan Brewer and lawmakers who formed a statewide effort to keep the most popular team in the Cactus League from bolting to Florida for spring training.
The Cubs shared their decision with Mesa, and while it hasn’t been made public, a news conference with the city and Brewer signals the team is staying. The event includes lawmakers - who passed a resolution in support of the Cubs on Tuesday - and “other special guests,” according to a release.
The announcement comes after the City Council approved its end of a deal Monday evening to build a new spring training complex, dubbed “Wrigleyville West.”
The team has told Mesa that it would respond to Mesa’s offer very quickly after Monday’s action. That’s been widely interpreted as a sign the team will stay in Mesa and not take an offer from developers for a complex near Naples, Fla.
Several Mesa residents blasted the council Monday for spending money on a stadium, noting voters defeated plans for a new Arizona Cardinals stadium here. Some speakers at Monday’s meeting likened a taxpayer-funded stadium to the Wall Street bailout. But Gary Sievers urged city support, singing “Go Cubs Go” with new lyrics “Stay Cubs Stay.”
“Mesa has no baseball rain,” he sang, “Naples is one big hurricane.”
Mayor Scott Smith rebutted critics by saying the entire point of the new complex is boosting the economy by surrounding the site with businesses that generate jobs and tax revenue that’s now going to other cities.
“I look at this as economic preservation,” Smith said.
Should the team say “yes” to Mesa, it would agree to exclusive negotiations with the city while the two spend about one year working on a formal agreement to build a complex that the Cubs have sought for nearly a year.
The complex would rival new ones in the West Valley, allowing the city and the Cubs to make more money from surrounding shops, hotels and restaurants.
The complex is key to the Ricketts family, which bought the team three months ago with promises of winning a World Series by providing world-class facilities for the players and fans.
Mesa is banking on other benefits.
The city hopes it can get another team to Mesa, at the Hohokam and Fitch Park facilities the Cubs have used for decades. Those places don’t fully meet the needs of the Cubs, the biggest draw in the Cactus League, but city officials say teams with smaller fan bases would likely find them attractive.
Part of Mesa’s deal with the Cubs requires that the team will help attract another team here.
The team has narrowed its new home to one of two sites along the Loop 202 freeway in east Mesa. The 100-acre-plus complex would cost about $84 million and include a stadium of 13,000-15,000 seats, practice fields and commercial development.
The deal came together with the help of state elected officials, who feared losing the Cactus League’s most popular team. The Cubs’ presence generates $52 million a year, money many surrounding cities share through hotel stays and tourism activities.
Mesa is confident two key future actions will fall into place. The Arizona Legislature must approve a bill for tourism taxes to fund part of the complex, and Mesa voters must approve two ballot measures. A vote is likely in November.
Tourism taxes and money from the Cubs would fund part of the facilities. City money would fund part of the project that would be used by the team during spring training but open to the public the rest of the year.