Agreement approved to keep Cubs in Mesa
North Siders' spring home would remain in city for 25 years
City officials in Mesa, Ariz., approved an agreement to keep the Cubs' Spring Training home in Arizona for at least the next 25 years, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
According to the deal, Mesa will build an $84 million stadium and training facility for the Cubs, and the team will continue to hold Spring Training in the Phoenix suburb for at least another 25 years.
Arizona lawmakers still need to approve legislation to finance and build the stadium, and city voters will still need to vote on the issue in November, but Mesa city officials see those as minor hurdles, according to the report.
"The Cubs, they have a 50-year history with the city," Mesa City Manager Chris Brady told the AP. "Everyone knows them, and we're pretty optimistic we'll get the support."
The Cubs, however, must still decide if they want to give Mesa exclusive negotiating rights by the end of the week because city officials in Naples, Fla., are still interested in bringing the Cubs to the Grapefruit League.
The Cubs regularly lead the Cactus League in attendance, often drawing more than their current capacity of 12,623 at HoHoKam Park.
But under the new deal, the city would build a 15,000-seat stadium and a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse along with a nutritional center, practice fields and batting cages.
The club would also manage the stadium and have control of the naming rights and signage at the facility, which wouldn't be shared with another club.
Cubs president Crane Kenney told the AP that the team's long history in the desert will be a factor in the decision, especially because the club first began training in Arizona in 1952.
"It is very important," Kenney said. "In a lot of ways, tradition is what the Cubs organization is about."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.