Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014

Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014
February 18, 2011, 10:18 pm
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Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
Posted 4:14 p.m. Updated 8:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs expect to be anchored in Arizona for decades to come and hope to break ground on their new complex this fall. The Ricketts family has toured every other facility in the Cactus League and plans to select an architectural firm within the next few weeks.

Board member Todd Ricketts visited Fitch Park on Friday, one day before the teams first official workout, and said that he anticipates no more legal or political hurdles in Mesa.

Were still talking to the city, getting the final details of our agreement, Ricketts said. But I think everythings lined up and were going to be here in Mesa for a long time.

The timeline isnt firm, though Ricketts said: Id hate to commit to 2013, but 2014 for sure.

The Cubs are looking to sell naming rights at a ballpark that will take visual cues from Wrigley Field and hold close to 15,000 fans. HoHoKam Stadiums current capacity is 13,100.

Ricketts said the family is focused on building the stadium first and hasnt gotten too deep into plans for developing what will be an adjacent Wrigleyville West retail complex.

With the Rockies and Diamondbacks opening a new site in Scottsdale, all 15 Cactus League teams are now located in the metropolitan Phoenix area, typically no more than an hour drive from one stadium to the next. The Cubs began play at the new HoHoKam Park in 1997 and regularly lead the league in attendance.

There has been a bit of a keep up with the Joneses mentality, Ricketts said. Were less about the glitz. Were more about the business. We want a facility thats going to be able to help us win.

At the same time, ownership is trying to find new financial mechanisms to renovate Wrigley Field, after last years initial proposal was met with overwhelming public resistance.

Thats kind of an ongoing process, Ricketts said. Im going to give a guess that some point in the next year or so were going to have something definitive on what were going to do with Wrigley. But I feel confident were going to get that renovation done. It needs to be done.

Waiting on Ramirez and Castro

Alfonso Soriano arrived at Fitch Park on Friday afternoon, leaving Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro as the only two Cubs yet to report at that point. Thats how Ramirez rolls, and he has the veteran status to back it up.

Castro is 20 years old and hasnt played a full season in the big leagues yet. It doesnt bother manager Mike Quade, who knows that Castro played winter ball and had several members of the organization visit him in the Dominican Republic.

Its great that these guys are here early, Quade said, but its a seven-week camp and we got guys here for a month (already). The dedication is incredible, and I love it, but at some point this really becomes a long year. You want guys peaking when April comes.

Had he not played any winter ballthen it might have been a different story, but no, its all good.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.