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Cubs Park debuts to record crowd

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs drew a Cactus League-record crowd of 14,486 on Thursday when they christened their new spring stadium, Cubs Park.

The crowd topped the old Cactus League single-game attendance mark of 13,721, set last March 23 in Glendale between the White Sox and Dodgers.

"The park is beautiful," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, whose team lost the debut game, 5-2, to the D-backs. "They saw their Cubbies back in action."

The fans made themselves heard.

"I don't really take a panoramic view of everything -- and when I played, I never looked in the stands -- but I could hear them, I heard the buzz, which was nice," Renteria said.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith saluted the citizens of Mesa, who voted to approve the $84 million project on the site of the former Riverview Golf Course. While campaigning for the project, Smith said he was amazed at how many Arizona residents "bleed Cubbie blue."

Asked to describe the new stadium, Smith said: "Wow."

This is the Cubs' 36th consecutive spring in Mesa, the longest active streak in the Cactus League. It's the first at Cubs Park after 17 years at HoHoKam Stadium, which the Athletics will take over in 2015.

"I have no complaints about the field," Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson said.

Young third baseman Christian Villanueva liked the new park immediately. He hit a home run in the intrasquad game on Wednesday.

"It's awesome," Villanueva said.

"It's a big difference from HoHoKam," outfielder Darnell McDonald said.

There is a clock on top of the video scoreboard that's a replica of the one at Wrigley Field. McDonald suggested they add a scoreboard like the one at Wrigley as well. Plus, Cubs Park needs ivy, he said.

"That's a staple," McDonald said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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