Prior to 2013 the Chicago Cubs played their home games during Cactus League baseball season at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. In 2014, the Cubs move to a new stadium not too far away. It's called Cubs Park.
Cubs Park Tips - Ten Things To Know Before You Go
These comments are based on my visit on Opening Day (February 27, 2014).
10 Things to Know About the New Cubs Park in Mesa
- About 75% of the seats, even those along the baseline toward outfield, will be in the shade. Of course all the seats in the grass (berm), are facing the sun.
- There are slightly fewer seats at Cubs Park than there were at Hohokam Stadium, but the berm (outfield grass) is significantly larger.
- You'll see several nods to Wrigley field here, but it is not intended to be a smaller version of the Chicago stadium. For example, you might notice the brickwork behind home plate, the big sign where everyone is taking photos, and the rooftop seats in the party area.
- The Cubs clubhouse is detached from the stadium. That means that fans will be able to see their favorite players walk from the clubhouse to the stadium before the game if they get there early enough. The stadium will open two hours before game time.
- Cubs Park will incorporate a picnic area in a small orange grove. It's a grassy area where you'll find local food trucks offering different choices at every game. Food truck fans rejoice!
- The stadium was designed to allow fans to watch the game from a variety of areas if sitting for the entire game isn't for you. There are rails along the concourse where you can stand with your beer and Chicago dog. My guess is that many people will buy the cheap berm tickets, and take relief from the sun with a better view from somewhere along the rail. (Note: There are some rail positions in the sun along both outfields baselines, if you prefer). There's a covered bar on the right field concourse where you may sit or stand and watch the game. You can see the field of play from the concourse, but not so well from the bar.
- The scoreboard here is...well...not impressive. It's small and hard to see. There seemed to be very little fan engagement. No Chicago dog races, few giveaways, no music. Also, this is the first ballpark that I've been in where the distance is not marked on the outfield walls. How far was that home run? I dunno. No souvenir cups? Bah. Maybe these will be change later. In any case, they probably don't keep anyone from enjoying a good baseball game.
- People always ask me where the home team fans sit. At a Chicago Cubs Spring Training game, that's an easy question to answer. Everywhere! The Cubs dugout is on the third base side.
- About Row 24. This row is the last row of the lower level seats at Cubs Park. The only higher seats are in the suites or the outfield party deck. Row 24 is like a mini balcony. It is positioned well above Row 23 such that no one sitting in front of you will block your view, and there is plenty of legroom. It is on the same level as the concourse behind it, so there are no steps to maneuver. The point here is that these are excellent seats for anyone who doesn't really want handicapped seating, but would rather not deal with steps. I saw people with walkers in this row, but plenty of people without. There are no special arrangements to be made to sit here. Like all seats, they are sold on an available basis. If there is a down side to those seats, is that the popular rail, mentioned in #6 above, is right behind you, and people standing there may be leaning right over your head while they chat. Of course, you could get talkers behind you anywhere you sit in a stadium, but I'm just sayin'.... Check this picture again, and you can get an idea of the seats in Row 24 are like.
- VIP and handicapped parking will be off Rio Salado Parkway on the west side of the stadium. The majority of ticket holders will probably be accessing general parking from the Dobson Road side of the stadium, on the east side next to Riverview Park.
- This stadium is uniquely positioned for the ultimate in gameday experience. Come early, bring the family. At Riverside Park there's a lake for urban fishing, picnic areas, a fantastic playground and other amenities. Then, just take a short walk to the stadium to enjoy the baseball game.
Yes, that was ten tips plus one!
Everything you need to know to get in on Cactus League action -- team schedules, tickets, stadium information, maps, weather, team gear, photos -- can be found in the Arizona Spring Training, Cactus League Guide.
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