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Chicago Cubs' new spring home taking shape

MESA, Ariz. -- The new spring training home of the Chicago Cubs is starting to take shape.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said as he was flying into the Valley last week, he looked out the window and saw that construction on the stadium is moving right along.

"I saw outlines of fields and where the bowl of the stadium is going," Smith said. "The dirt work is moving along very quickly. It won't be long until we actually start pouring concrete and doing vertical on the construction of the Cubs' training facility."

The $99 million stadium near the Loop 101 and 202 freeways is set to open next year.

The big question is whether Arizona State University will join the Cubs there. The university wants to move its baseball program out of on-campus 40-year-old Packard Stadium, which doesn't have many of the amenities that major college baseball programs require.

But ASU and the Cubs have not yet reached a partnership deal and Smith admits the university is also considering a move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, spring home to the Oakland Athletics.

"They have talked with Phoenix. That's certainly an option for them if this does not happen," Smith said.

He contends that playing in the new stadium would be a great deal for both teams.

"It's a state-of-the-art facility." Smith said. "ASU is getting into this arrangement with minimal capital outlay. ... There's also long-term benefits to the Cubs, as you bring all these tens of thousands of new hands on site, which helps them with their Wrigleyville investment."

Wrigleyville would be an entertainment area, and would be built near the new stadium. It is named after the Cubs home stadium in Chicago, Wrigley Field.

Smith said negotiations are ongoing between the Cubs and ASU. Meanwhile, reports the A's are talking with Mesa about moving to Hohokam Stadium in 2015.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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