On Thursday the Chicago Cubs officially christened Cubs Park, their new Spring Training home in Mesa, AZ. A sellout crowd of more than 15,000 watched the Cubs open their Cactus League season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D’Backs won the exhibition 5-2 but the real star of the afternoon was the shiny new facility nestled in the central Arizona scenery.
Constructed with its predecessor in mind, “Little Wrigley” essentially does look like a smaller version of the real thing. The grandstand features the same old school green seats, but is likely a bit more structurally sound. There are no outfield bleachers, rather the common grass hill seen in many Spring Training parks throughout Arizona and Florida.
Watching the game on TV at first I thought they were playing at the real Wrigley, thanks to the brick facade behind the backstop. WGN’s outfield camera angle really made the broadcast look like trademark afternoon baseball on the North Side. A nice touch.
There is also a replica of the famous Wrigley Field marquee just outside the main concourse.
Arizona’s Martin Prado recorded the first base hit, a single in the top of the first off Jeff Samardzija. Emilio Bonifacio had the first extra base hit — a triple — in the bottom of the first, later scoring the park’s first run.
Cubs Park replaces HoHoKam Stadium, the team’s former Spring stadium in Mesa, which they had called home since 1997. With 15,000 permanent seats it boasts the largest capacity of any MLB Spring Training facility.