CHICAGO — The future of Wrigley Field, the new spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz., and even a new development facility in the Dominican Republic all look bright.
During an event Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention titled “The Future of the Cubs’ Facilities,” a panel led by Chicago Cubs president Crane Kenney revealed even more about structural enhancements that could reach the “multiple $100 million” range.
The long-discussed triangle area adjacent to Wrigley Field to the west will be developed and include at least one restaurant as well as shops. Its working title is “Cubs Alley,” but Kenney said the team will look into a new name.
The area is being modeled after Fenway Park’s utilization of the street on the third-base side of the ballpark to give fans added concourse area during games.
A big concern is also adding space for players, including a bigger clubhouse, trainers’ area and an underground batting cage. The club has explored expanding the clubhouse under the playing field and could even put a batting cage there.
There is also a plan to eventually utilize the roof space along both the first- and third-base lines for fans. Party decks (for lack of a better term) with additional restrooms would service the upper deck.
Restoring the ballpark’s original look is also a priority. The plan is to replace all the exterior chain link fencing with decorative iron work.
The new spring training stadium, located at the junction of the 101 and 202 freeways in Mesa, is slated to be completed by 2013, but Kenney told an intimate gathering of fans that it might not be done until after spring training is complete. It will serve as a rehab and development facility for the rest of the 2013 season and begin to host spring games in 2014.
“We will have a baseball facility that is the best in baseball and we’re happy to be doing it with Mesa’s help,” said Mark McGuire, Cubs vice president of business operations.
The new park in Arizona will also have a retail/restaurant area attached in an effort to mimic the Wrigleyville experience, although on a much smaller level. There is no central gathering place for fans adjacent to the team’s current park in Arizona.
Currently, the Cubs lease their academy in the Dominican Republic, but plan on having their own facility there by 2013.
Other information revealed by Kenney:
# There is no plan for the team to start using personal seat license agreements for season-ticket holders in order to increase revenue.
# The team will continue to explore opportunities to play host to college football games like the one this fall between Northwestern and Illinois. Despite safety concerns that forced the game to be played in one direction, Kenney said: “It was not one and done. We will keep looking for more opportunities.”