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Cubs owners visit potential Spring sites

Cubs owners visit potential Spring sites

CHICAGO -- Three members of the Ricketts family took a helicopter ride in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday to see six potential sites for a new Spring Training facility.

Last month, Tom Ricketts was in Florida to do the same, looking at three sites near Naples, Fla., in Collier County. The Cubs are looking for about 120 contiguous acres where they can build a 15,000-seat stadium, have six practice fields, and upgraded facilities for player development.

On Wednesday, Arizona officials showed the Cubs owners existing Spring Training facilities as well as potential sites. According to the East Valley Tribune, the family saw six sites that line the Loop 202 freeway from Falcon Field to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Each of the prospective developers got 15 minutes with the family.

"If we're judged on the merits, I think it's a slam dunk," Mesa mayor Scott Smith said.

The Ricketts family wants more than a stadium and practice fields for the Cubs' new spring home. Early indications are that they want to build a "Wrigley village" at the new site, which would include restaurants and hotels.

On Tuesday night, Arizona officials delivered their sales pitch to the Ricketts family at a dinner at the Red Mountain Ranch Country Club. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer attended, and the session included a video message from Sen. John McCain, who wished the Cubs a World Series victory.

"Please stay with us," McCain said.

Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, who is president of the Phoenix Greater Economic Council, also made a presentation.

"We're really committed to make sure we can address all your issues," Bidwill said.

The Cubs' contract with Mesa and HoHoKam Stadium allows the team to buy out of the deal after 2012. The team has practiced in Mesa since the 1950s, and called its current site home since 1979. The Cubs are the top draw in the Cactus League, and a recent survey showed they provide $52 million to the state's economy.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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