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Arizona City Builds Fast-Track Field of Dreams for Chicago Cubs

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Spring training ballparks are great places to take in the national pastime in sunny Arizona. Until recently, these parks have been relatively straightforward to design and construct—most with seating for less than 10,000 fans.

photo courtesy of Hunt Construction/City of Mesa
The stadium sits as the centerpiece of the park and will be capable of handling approximately 15,000 fans. The building in the foreground will host fans on the roof in homage to neighborhood seating across the street from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
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But a new ballpark under construction in Mesa, Ariz., for the Chicago Cubs, is not only larger than other Arizona spring training facilities—with a 15,000-seat stadium, practice fields, locker rooms, offices and integration of a public park and lake—but it was built within a challenging fast-track schedule.

Hunt Construction Group, Phoenix, is the construction manager at-risk for the $99-million project, which includes the largest stadium in the Cactus League.

Included on the 146-acre site, located near the Loop 101 and Loop 202 Red Mountain freeways at the intersection of Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale, are 17 structures and six full-size practice fields.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous, which has designed nearly 250 stadiums and arenas, is the architect. Hunt has led construction efforts for 136 sports venues, including the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.

About 60 subcontractors have worked on the fast-track project, which broke ground in July 2012. Substantial completion is scheduled for November with full completion in December, giving the Chicago Cubs ample time to prepare for the first pitch of the Cactus League season in March 2014.

Initial work started with demolition and mass grading in order to eliminate the structures and contours of the old, nine-hole Riverview Golf Course that was razed in order to build the facility.

"Other than some existing utility corridors we had to pay attention to, it was a pretty wide open site," says Tab Baker, project executive with Hunt. "It was kind of a clean slate for us."

The three largest structures on the site include the stadium itself; a three-level, 45,000-sq-ft left-field building just beyond the outfield wall; and a two-level, 65,000-sq-ft clubhouse.

The project also includes a 25-acre, $9-million park that includes a five-acre children's playground as well as a reconstructed and enlarged six-acre, 27-million-gallon lake that serves as both the irrigation source for the entire complex and an urban fishing spot.

‘Steeling’ A Bit Of Wrigley Field

The stadium was designed to look like Wrigley Field, where the Cubs play in Chicago. The ballpark includes similar playing field dimensions to Wrigley, showcases the familiar bricks behind home plate and will make Cubs fans feel right at home due to the familiar, expansive green lighting structures.

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