Cubs welcome first fans to new Arizona training facility
Mesa ballpark opens doors as Spring Training single-game tickets go on sale
MESA, Ariz. -- More than a month and a half away before hosting its first Cactus League game, Cubs Park opened its gates Saturday to droves of fans eager for a sneak peek at the recently completed stadium.
Coinciding with the start of single-game ticket sales, triple-digit lines stretched into the parking lot as fans snatched up seats for the club's inaugural season at the new Spring Training facility. The first game at Cubs Park will be Feb. 27 against the D-backs.
"I think it's really nice, it's going to be one of the top ballparks in the league," said Kevin Coats of Queen Creek, Ariz., originally from Wauconda, Ill. "I've lived here for about 10 years now, but before, I used to come out to Arizona all the time in the spring. This new place will make the trip more than worth it for everyone still back home."
Located less than four miles west of the club's old home at Hohokam Park, Cubs Park has a capacity of 15,000 -- including 9,200 fixed seats. The remainder will sit in patio decks and a sprawling outfield lawn on an incline designed for improved-viewing purposes.
"With what they've done with the outfield, it's great," Coats said. "One of the best things about coming out here is to sit out on the grass with your family. Some of the other fields, they've shrunk the outfield. This one, they certainly didn't go away from that."
Dick Warren of Mendota, Ill., who now lives in Mesa, compared the stadium to Salt River Fields, the D-backs and Rockies' joint Spring Training facility in nearby Scottsdale, Ariz.
"It's massive, but it also feels intimate," Warren said. "I like it a lot and I think it will compare favorably to the other Cactus League parks. I'm sure people will love it."
Jon Kromphardt of Bloomington Ill., woke up early and waited in line for more than two hours to be one of the first to buy tickets. Kromphardt moved to Arizona from Illinois with his girlfriend over the summer and has been waiting to see the new stadium up close and personal ever since.
"She said we could live by the new stadium if I came out here, so I decided to do it and now I literally live right across the street," Kromphardt said. "I bought a season pass for lawn because unfortunately I can't skip work every day, so I'll just come catch the end of the games when I'm off. I can't wait to see (top prospect Javier) Baez and all the young guys come up."
Some of the features fans loved most about the new park were the added touches to make the stadium resemble Wrigley Field. From the light fixtures to the brick wall behind home plate to the green scoreboard affixed with a Wrigley-style clock, Cubs Park already has visitors feeling right at home.
"It's perfect," Kromphardt said. "This is Wrigley West."