For some, the light at the end of a long winter is baseball’s spring training season. This year, Cubs fans who travel to Mesa, Arizona will get a special treat: The team’s new 15,000-seat training facility, Cubs Park (2330 W. Rio Salado Pkwy.), which opened in January.
The $99 million complex spans 140 acres across a former golf course and includes seven side practice fields and some 5,000 parking spaces. There’s also an 88-foot tall video board, luxury suites, two party decks, a pathway from the clubhouse to the field for close-up views of the players, and, nods to Wrigley Field, such as a left field Budweiser deck with rooftop seating. A smattering of local food trucks will line up during the games just beyond the center field wall, and, nearby, visitors can also have fun at the new Mesa Riverview Park, an awesome city park with a 300-foot rock climbing wall, 75-foot-zip line, and 50-foot rope climbing tower.
On Thursday, February 27, the Cubs play the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first home game at the park. Can’t make it to the season opener? Sixteen more are scheduled through the end of March, including a final game against the White Sox on March 27. (Check the full training schedule here.) Game tickets go for $8 to $38, roundtrip fares to Phoenix are less than $200 through March, and temps in sunny Mesa are hitting the upper 70s. Why wouldn’t you go?
Where to stay: There are many hotels nearby in Mesa but make the 20-minute drive to the 740-room Arizona Biltmore (from $299) and enjoy the property’s Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design (by the Wright disciple Albert Chase McArthur). Book a room at the boutique-style Ocatilla, a hotel within a hotel that’s right on property. Have an atmospheric dinner at Wrights and sip prohibition-style cocktails in the recently opened Mystery Room (Sunday evenings only).
Where to eat: From March 14 to 16, enjoy the full hometown experience at the park’s Chicago Fest ($10) with a Taste of Chicago Food Court and Mike Ditka’s restaurant, Chicago blues and polka stages, and an interactive Chicago history exhibit.
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