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Five sites emerge as home for new Cubs facility

Five sites are under consideration as the new home of a Chicago Cubs spring-training complex in Mesa, but two are emerging as the front-runners.

The two are Riverview Park and downtown Mesa.

The sites have some pretty specific criteria attached: besides serving as the home to a new ballpark and spring-training complex, the site must also have enough land for developer — i.e., a hotel, restaurants and other retail development in a Wrigleyville West complex.

Of the three, we’re most intrigued by downtown Mesa, which is one of the hidden gems of the East Valley as it is. Going to a San Francisco Giants spring-training game in downtown Scottsdale is such a delight because of the presence of a vibrant downtown; while we don’t foresee downtown Mesa growing to the same size as Scottsdale, the addition of a Cubs facility could certainly bring some investment capital to the area. Add in some light-rail service in 2016, and the so-called Site 17 location could be perfect.

Still, there are pluses to the other sites. The Riverview site is where the Waveyard waterpark has been proposed; it has lots of easy freeway access for players and fans alike. Still, with another developer having an option to buy the land, using it for a Cubs facility could be problematic.

A referendum this fall requires passage of a measure to allow the city of spend $84 million on a new complex and the raising of local hotel taxes to help pay for it. The city also plans on borrowing against surplus land in Pinal County once needed for water rights.

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