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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
As spring home opens, Wrigley fixes wait

By Jesse Rogers



MESA, Ariz. -- It's hard to marvel at the Chicago Cubs' new spring training facility without thinking about the stall in the long-awaited renovation of Wrigley Field.

Almost 2,000 miles away from where the Cubs play during the season -- under bright and warm sunny skies -- the team and community cut the ribbon on their state-of-the-art new spring home on Tuesday. The huge complex lives up to its hype.

"We have something special," Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a morning ceremony attended by the governor of Arizona, the mayor of Mesa and Cubs ownership. "No more excuses. If we can't get better here we can't get better anywhere."

Ricketts
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts discusses the team's new spring training complex Wednesday in Mesa.
Getting better in February and March is important, but not as important as where the players perform from April through September. By Epstein's thinking, the Cubs still have "excuses," considering the renovation of Wrigley Field has yet to begin. Part of that project includes better facilities for the players.

"We're talking," owner Tom Ricketts said Tuesday after the ceremony. "We're looking at different ideas. Everyone has incentive to get this done and hopefully at some point here we'll have a solution that works."

It's the same statement he's been making all along, except he expressed more optimism at the Cubs Convention last month. A meeting with rooftop owners days later killed that optimism but talks are ongoing. The deal comes down to one thing: the placement of the video board in left field.

"Look at this place here," Ricketts said, pointing to his new stadium in Mesa. "When people work together and they really focus on what they can accomplish together, you see great results."

That was said with an obvious nod to the problems in Chicago. Ricketts, with the help of Mesa mayor Scott Smith, deflected any other conversation away from Wrigley Field. He has good reason because the new spring home in Mesa is a complex unlike any other in the Cactus or Grapefruit league. The Cubs should be proud of it.

"Our facilities are the best in the game," Ricketts said.

He's probably right. The irony is, it only magnifies the Wrigley Field issues even more.