Results tagged ‘ Mesa ’
Robert Brinton, a key force in keeping the Cubs in Arizona, died unexpectedly on Friday. A past Cactus League Association president, Brinton was not feeling well in his office at the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said when Brinton failed to return from the restroom, another employee found him slumped over. He was 60.
“I was just absolutely stunned,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I lost a friend, a co-worker, a giant.”
Brinton and Smith partnered to save the Cubs from a potential move to Naples, Fla. The two men campaigned together for approval of a Mesa ballot measure that approved financing for a new Cubs Spring Training complex at the present site of Riverview Golf Course, near the interchange of Loops 101 and 202 in west Mesa.
“Everything he did was for the love of his community and people,” Smith said. “He gave selflessly because he believed in it. He was that kind of person.”
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement that Brinton helped persuade him to keep the Cubs in Arizona after he bought the team in 2009.
“Robert was as passionate a Cubs fan as there ever was,” Ricketts said in a statement. “His love for baseball helped fuel the success of the Cactus League through more than five decades. His leadership this past year is a big part of the reason our team is staying in Mesa, and his legacy to future generations will be evident each spring as the Cubs take the field. He was a true friend and we will miss him dearly.”
Former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola Jr. said Brinton’s respectful manner and credibility helped persuade the Cubs to stay in Mesa in 1989, when the league had eight teams and was endangered. He said the Cubs were listening to Florida politicians, who were hoping to lure the remaining teams to their state.
“The debt that the Cactus League owes Robert Brinton is immeasurable,” Garagiola said. “Everyone who knew him has a hole in their heart today.”
Brinton served as president of the Cactus League Association for two years, but he was a board member for 20 years. He also was executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau and the past president of the Mesa HoHoKams, a civic group that performs many functions at Hohokam Stadium during games.
Under Brinton’s leadership and through his tireless efforts, “the Cactus League exploded into a 15-team league that rivals the Super Bowl in economic importance,” said Dave Dunne, the league’s treasurer and manager of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The Cactus League drew more than 1.5 million fans this year and had an estimated economic impact of $360 million.
Dunne said Brinton was “this generation’s Dwight Patterson,” the hotelier who helped found the Cactus League by luring the Cubs to Mesa in 1952.
“Heaven’s baseball team just added another player,” said Mark Gallo, current HoHoKam stadium manager. “I loved the man.”
Brinton is survived by his wife, Nannette, and seven adult children. Services are pending.
— Carrie Muskat
Groundbreaking is expected next spring or summer for the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility, which received a vote of approval Monday night. The Mesa city council voted 6-0 to approve the package to allow it and the Cubs to design and build the $99 million Spring Training complex. Mesa now has a 30-year deal in place to build the stadium and manage it with the Cubs, who have called the city its Spring Training home since 1979. The city also can sell parcels to the team for the so-called “Wrigleyville West” entertainment complex.
Mesa officials and the Cubs have been negotiating terms since voters approved the deal last November by a 2-1 margin. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the Cubs will pay any expenses exceeding $84 million for the stadium and $15 million for related projects. Scottsdale-based Hunt Construction Group was named the contractor, and was awarded $380,000 for the design phase of the project. It will seek competitive bids on the subcontract jobs.
Mesa officials expect the complex to be finished in time for Spring Training 2014. The new facility will be located at the southeast corner of the Loop 101 and Loop 202 in west Mesa and replace the Riverview Golf Course.
— Carrie Muskat
The Mesa City Council had been scheduled to vote this week on a series of agreements governing the Cubs’ new Spring Training baseball complex to be built on what is now Riverview Golf Course. According to the Arizona Republic, city official Scot Rigby said they weren’t ready, and the vote has been postponed. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and the city council want the public to see the documents in advance of the council’s vote. A draft is at mesaaz.gov (click on “Build a Better Mesa”). Two parts of the agreement are missing: one is a facilities use agreement and the other is an option agreement. The first governs the relationship between Mesa and the Cubs after the baseball facilities are built. The second gives the Cubs dibs on developing city-owned land within the complex for an entertainment and shopping district. Last year, Mesa voters agreed to let the city spend up to $84 million for the baseball complex and $15 million for infrastructure. The earliest the council could vote now is Oct. 17. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for January.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ Instructional League gets underway Thursday in Mesa, Ariz., which means several of the team’s Draft picks as well as some other Minor League prospects will get some extra work and playing time. They start playing games Sept. 23 in the Phoenix area, with the Cubs playing at their Fitch Park complex. Among the players scheduled to participate include No. 1 pick Javier Baez and Shawon Dunston Jr., son of the former Cubs shortstop.
Twelve of the Cubs’ first 16 Draft picks are expected to get a head start on their pro careers, including second-round pick Dan Vogelbach, a first baseman from Bishop Verot (Fla.) High School. Also expected to participate are infielder/outfielder Zeke DeVoss from Miami; right-hander pitcher Tony Zych of Louisville; right-handed pitcher Tayler Scott of Notre Dame (Ariz.) High School; catcher Neftali Rosario of Puerto Rico Academy High School; and outfielder Garrett Schlecht of Waterloo (Ill.) High School. Others on the list include infielder Daniel Lockhart of Hebron Christian Academy (Ga.); right-handed pitcher Dillon Maples of Pinecrest (N.C.) High School; catcher Justin Marra of Michael Power St. Joseph High School; catcher Rafael Lopez of Florida State University; and left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan of Texas.
— Carrie Muskat
The inaugural Chicago Cubs Charities Celebrity Golf Tournament raised $25,000 for charitable organizations in Mesa on Friday. Proceeds will be shared between Chicago Cubs Charities, Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center and the Mesa HoHoKam Foundation. More than 70 golfers participated, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams, GM Jim Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush, radio broadcaster Keith Moreland, Major Leaguers Bill Buckner, Mariano Duncan, Jeff Fassero, and John “Blue Moon” Odom, and Phoenix Suns Tim Kempton and Eddie Johnson.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have not picked an architect yet to build their new Spring Training complex but do expect to break ground in the fall and hope to have it completely ready by February 2014. Todd Ricketts, one of the team’s owners who is coordinating the Cubs’ Spring Training efforts, stopped by the team’s current facility on Friday for an update. Last November, Mesa voters overwhelmingly approved plans for an $84 million complex in the Riverview Park area.
Ricketts has met with the Cubs athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and Minor League coordinators to get their wish list for the 50,000-square foot facility. The team is still deciding whether to combine the Minor League and Major League complex, or have them separate. A 15,000-seat stadium also will be built on the site. The Cubs’ current ballpark, HoHoKam Park, seats 12,500.
Ricketts has toured all of the Cactus League facilities and taken notes. This spring, the Rockies and Diamondbacks will open their new complex.
“There has been a ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ mentality with all these Spring Training facilities,” Ricketts said. “We’re less about the glitz and we’re more about the business.
“We want a facility that will be able to help us win,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for. I don’t know if that means having a state of the art hydrotherapy table or not. We’ll have some of those things but at the end of the day, it’s simple — getting your body in shape and getting the players ready to play. It’s a simple thing — you just need a little space to do it.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs will pay tribute to late broadcaster Ron Santo and host a pair of special days at Spring Training games to thank Mesa voters for their support last fall of Proposition 420 to keep the Cubs in the city.
It will be “Ron Santo Day” on March 10 when the Cubs play host to the Indians at HoHoKam Park. Santo passed away Dec. 2, and this will be one of many tributes to the former Cubs third baseman and broadcaster.
Mesa Little Leaguers, campaign supporters and volunteers will receive special pre-game recognition at a pair of games this spring as thanks for their help passing the measure to authorize financing for a new Cubs Spring Training facility in the city. On Feb. 27, the Cubs’ Cactus League opener against the Athletics, it will be “Mesa Little League Day.” The team will host 400 Little Leaguers and their parents, and include young ballplayers in on-field activities prior to the game.
The Cubs also will recognize supporters and volunteers at “Thank You Mesa Day” on March 7 when the Cubs face the Angels.
— Carrie Muskat
How eager was Blake DeWitt to get out of the snow in Missouri? He took a cab from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix directly to Fitch Park on Sunday.
“I couldn’t wait to get out here,” said DeWitt after getting out of a taxi with his suitcase, bat bag and gear bag. “I think everybody’s looking forward to this season. I think everybody’s excited about how we finished the season last year and the moves we made this past offseason. There’s a lot of potential here.”
DeWitt has been mentioned as one of Cubs manager Mike Quade’s options at leadoff.
“To be honest, I haven’t even thought about it,” the infielder said. “It’s one of those things where you prepare yourself for anything. If they ask me to do it, I’ll be more than happy to do it. It’s a big responsibility. But it’s also a big responsibility hitting eighth. You’ve got to play hard and do whatever you can do to help the team win.”
— Carrie Muskat