Intelligence Report: Taxpayers flip the bill for Cubs new spring training home in Mesa, Arizona

July 12, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: Details of a big sports story that's gone unnoticed.

Now that we have everyone's attention: We are not talking about a new stadium to replace Wrigley Field -- or even referring to Chicago. The new stadium being built by taxpayers out west is in Mesa, Arizona, where the Cubs hold spring training.

The Cubs had threatened to abandon Mesa after decades. The story that went unnoticed Wednesday was groundbreaking for a $99 million facility that will keep the Cubs there.

The Cubs have played in Mesa part of every decade since the early 1950s and constantly since 1979. A few years ago team owners told Mesa officials that a new stadium was necessary to continue spring training in the city.

In 2010, voters approved paying $99 million in public money on this new stadium a couple of miles From Hohokam Park where the Cubs currently play.

Groundbreaking was Wednesday morning for the new ballpark that is expected to be finished in 2014. The plans borrow design features from Wrigley Field and nearby Arizona State University.

City of Mesa officials cut a stadium deal to keep the Cubs for at least 30 years with an option for 50.

The Cubs always draw the biggest spring training crowds in Arizona.

The new stadium is expected to be surrounded by a separate entertainment and shopping development financed by the team.

When it opens, though, Cubs fans may feel flummoxed by the location: It is south of the Loop...Highway Loop 101 in Arizona, that is.

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