7/27 Cubs narrow list of Mesa sites

Now it’s down to three. The Cubs apparently have narrowed the list of potential Spring Training sites in Mesa, Ariz., to three locations, including Riverview Park and its golf course, a downtown area known as Site 17, and another in the northeast part of town.

Mesa officials need to finalize a plan before the November election and early balloting, which will begin in either late September or early October. Voter approval is required for the city to spend more than $1.5 million on a sports complex. Mesa was expected to spend as much as $84 million on new facilities for the Cubs. A second ballot would raise the hotel bed tax from 3 percent to 5 percent, which could raise another $30 million. City officials say Mesa would cover any remaining costs by borrowing against surplus land the city owns in Pinal County.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith confirmed the three locations to the Arizona Republic.

If the Cubs picked the Riverview site, that would mean the end of a proposed water-themed resort there. That project has stalled because of a lack of financing. Riverview would give the Cubs a 15-minute access to four other Cactus League ballparks via access to Loop 202 and Loop 101.

The downtown location, known as Site 17, is a barren tract cleared a decade ago for a resort that was never built. The Cubs actually began training in Mesa in 1952 at downtown Rendezvous Park.

“The big challenge … is that it would involve multiple parcels of land and multiple parcels of land and multiple negotiations,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I’m not sure we have the time to make it happen, but we’re working on it.”

The third candidate is a site near the Longbow Golf Course south of Loop 202.

Smith said the key factor is where the Cubs believe their “Wrigleyville West” plan for tourism development will be most successful.

– Carrie Muskat

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