Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The ribbon cutting is done and the games are about to begin at Chicago Cubs' new spring training stadium in mesa. Here to talk about the new facility and what it means for the city is mesa mayor Scott Smith. Good to see you again.
Scott Smith: Thanks for having me, Ted.
Ted Simons: Where exactly, most folks I think know, but for those who don't, where is the stadium?
Scott Smith: The stadium is right at the Riverview Park, at the intersection of 101 and 202.
Ted Simons: You mentioned Riverview Park, there still is a Riverview Park, correct?
Scott Smith: That’s what is exciting about this. It’s not just the Cubs’ field and stadium, part of a 126 plus acre complex which includes things that are unseen and unheard of in baseball and certainly here in Arizona, city park, Riverview Park, completely rebuilt. A 50-foot climbing tower, you don't see not only in Arizona, but in the entire world. Tallest in the world. Incredible new lake where you can fish. And that is connected through walkways into the stadium. It has it all. Complete experience.
Ted Simons: Except for those of us golfers, we don't have Riverview golf course.
Scott Smith: Progress sometimes is tough. I miss Riverview golf course like everybody else does. If you could have seen the 30 plus thousand people that showed up for the open house, the families as they went through the park, and then to the stadium. To many of them the park was more impressive than the stadium was. This is what building things for the community is all about.
Ted Simons: How was this done for the community? We talked before, you were on the program before as we went through this process, not the easiest.
Scott Smith: No, it wasn't. It was a five-year process. We had to take it to the voters. We had to make sure that they believed that this investment was somebody that benefited everybody. One of the big arguments, you're building stadiums for millionaires. The fact of the matter is yes the millionaires will play there, but they can play anywhere. Our citizens in the community believed that they needed a place to go together. They liked the fact that we were not only building a stadium, spring training facility, an experience that they can go to year round. Passed it overwhelmingly, Mesa voters, conservative voters, they agreed this was a great investment for the community.
Ted Simons: It was a situation where the cubs were being courted and quite heavily by Florida. That was a factor --
Scott Smith: Not only a factor, but a fact. The Cubs never said if you don't give us this we are going there. It was obvious that they had options. All we asked the Cubs was for an opportunity. Listen, we get it that you have opportunities and you have options, but give us a chance to build something. They never said you have to do this dollar amount or that dollar amount. We figured out what would be reasonable, and actually, a lot of stadiums that have been built recently that are much more expensive than what this Cubs stadium is. I don't think there is anyone that creates an experience like this does.
Ted Simons: How much did the stadium and project cost and who is paying for it?
Scott Smith: The whole project which includes the stadium, practice field, entire park, was $84 million dollars plus about $18 or 19 for infrastructure. Mesa taxpayers through the sale of land, nonproductive land, we weren't making any money on it. We sold the land and recently closed the first portion of that, which is over $130 million. That is what is being used to pay for the stadium. It is a transfer of nonproductive assets into productive assets. Things that will generate economic development, over $130 million a year and quality of life for our community for generations.
Ted Simons: Keep the cubs in Mesa and also keep the cubs fan in Mesa. A lot of times they head to Tempe, Scottsdale, Wrigleyville west, how far along is that?
Scott Smith: It is creating an environment where you can go in the morning, go fish with the park, hang out with the family. Outside of the stadium, thre will be entertainment, restaurants, Sheraton hotel has been announced and will go up next to the stadium, first development part of Wrigleyville west. Idea to create a year-round entertainment and hotel and business center that will thrive during spring training, but in the other months of the year, people will be able to go to and it is off to a great start.
Ted Simons: What does that mean? What do we see out there?
Scott Smith: Right after spring training is done, you will see breaking ground on a full service Sheraton hotel. If you think about what is this like, Kierland Commons, and how its urban type street scene and that is what you will have. Instead of shops, you will have a hotel, restaurants, other entertainment venues and you have the beautiful park and the stadium all together.
Ted Simons: Is there concern that Riverview mall down the way will lose some business? There is a lot going on. Two big malls, Tempe, Scottsdale not far away, that is a lot of stuff going on.
Scott Smith: I can tell you in the short time that the park has been open, Riverview shopping center is ecstatic. It has drawn people in that ordinarily would not have come to that area. They come enjoy the park and enjoy the stadium and they go over to Riverview to eat, to maybe have a drink or two. They really stay in the area. We're finding they're already staying in the area. We think long term it will generate new traffic that simply isn't going there right now.
Ted Simons: Before I let you go, let's talk a little baseball. As far as the stadium itself is concerned, architectural idea behind it, does it look a little like Wrigley -- what does it look like?
Scott Smith: We didn't start out to make a replica of Wrigley field. As we got into it, some of the colors and the way it's presented give you a real feel that -- it gives a similar feel to Wrigley field. The idea was not to copy Wrigley field except for the experience. We wanted fans to feel comfortable, intimate. And that is one thing that I have heard from fans. This is an intimate place, a place where I can feel like I'm enjoying baseball but doing it in a place that I can actually be close to the action and close to the fans.
Ted Simons: If it is anything like Wrigley field, having been there, the last thing those fans care about is baseball. They're busy having a big party out in the stands.
Scott Smith: Welcome to spring training. In the left field, bleachers up on top of buildings. You can replicate what it is like to be across the street and watch the game. A lot of great venues in the valley. This is more than about Mesa. This is about the valley and spring training. Cubs field, will become the gem, a place for people to come together -- maybe watch a little baseball.
Ted Simons: We'll see about that. Mayor, good to see you.
Scott Smith: Thank you. Thank you.