Mesa officials have a game plan for HoHoKam Park, which in the next few years will become the former spring home of the Chicago Cubs: they’ll try to attract another MLB team to train there.
Not a bad plan, really: might as well give it a shot. The plan is pretty simple: when the Cubs leave in 2013 (or perhaps earlier), Mesa will be working to have another MLB team lined up as a new tenant. While Mesa officials say they’ll look to Florida for a team, they’re probably wasting their time: virtually every team is now committed to their Florida homes via long-term lease; the few that aren’t, like the Washington Nationals and Minneota Twins, are highly unlikely to uproot operations for Arizona.
Indeed, Mesa’s best chances to lease HoHoKam Park and Fitch Park probably rests in a team already in the Cactus League or a team form overseas. While we expect the Milwaukee Brewers to stay at Maryvale Baseball Park, one of the next two teams whose leases are expiring — Seattle and San Diego — may be willing to look at a situation where they’d have a ballpark and training facilities all to themselves. And, of course, there’s forever talk that a Japanese or Korean pro team will train in the United States at some point.
We’re a little surprised there’s been limited talk of using HoHoKam for tournaments. One area where Florida has a huge lead on Arizona: they’ve definitely turned old ballparks into very viable venues for youth, high-school and college tournaments. Visit Terry Park, which opened almost a century ago as the spring home of the Philadephia A’s, and you’ll find baseball played almost daily throughout the winter and spring; the same goes for Holman Stadium and Chain of Lakes Park. There just aren’t the same sorts of facilities in the greater Phoenix area, even with former ballparks like the one in Chandler sitting empty.
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