This week the Cubs announced that they will keep their spring training base in Mesa, Arizona. The team had been flirting with Naples, Florida, considering a move there. But the first major decision by the new ownership was to stay put in Arizona. And I wholeheartedly agree with the decision.
The Cubs have been training in Arizona since 1952 (except for one season in Long Beach, CA). They were in Mesa from 1952 - 1965, then Scottsdale from 1967 - 1978, and have been back in Mesa since 1979. The Giants and Indians were the first two Cactus League teams, arriving in 1951. The Cubs came the next season, and are a Cactus League fixture.. That is a lot of history, and its nice to see that respected.
In Mesa, the Cubs have called three different ballparks home. Rendezvous Park was their home during the first stint in Mesa.
Rendezvous Park, in a photo from the 1961 media guide. The guide also mentions that Mesa has a population of 30,000. Today the population is over 450,000!
It looks like this was taken behind the grandstands down the left field line at Rendezvous Park.
This was taken inside the park.
Rendezvous Park was torn down in 1976 and replaced by HoHoKam Park, into which the Cubs moved when they returned to Mesa in 1979.
HoHoKam Park photo from the 1981 media guide.
The symbol on the wall behind Mumphrey is the HoHoKam's symbol.
In 1997, a new HoHoKam Park was built on the site of the former, and that has been the Cubs' spring home ever since.
As part of the agreement to keep the Cubs, the city of Mesa will be building the Cubs a new park. It will be a state of the art stadium seating over 15,000 fans. The Cubs are the top draw in the Cactus League, and the park is built with that in mind. It will also be exclusive to the Cubs. Many of the newer facilities are being shared by two team. But this will be Cubs only.
No designs of the park have been announced yet, but here is my hope: make the outfield walls the exact same dimensions as Wrigley Field. I've never understood why teams don't do this, both at spring training sites and in the minors. Why not get the outfielders and pitchers used to playing on a field the size they hope to get to some day?
An independent league team based in the NW Chicago suburbs, the Schaumburg Flyers, play at a park that did just that. Their home, Alexian Field, has a playing field that is an exact replica of Wrigley Field. And they are not connected to the Cubs in any way. Why not have all the Cubs-affiliated teams do the same thing?