Every year I make the trip to Mesa for Cubs spring training, I look forward to making the trip to Hohokam stadium. But I’m looking forward to next year as the Cubs will be making their way to the new Mesa Riverview stadium located only a couple of miles away from Hohokam. Rumors have swirled recently about what will happen to Hohokam once the Cubs leave, but it was announced last week that the Oakland A’s will be moving from their current spring training home in Phoenix to Mesa for the 2015 season. It had been rumored for some time that the A’s would be moving into Hohokam Stadium, but the team announced that renovations will be made to Hohokam during 2014 and will be ready for use come spring of 2015.
One question that remains to be answered is whether Finch Park, the Cubs’ minor league ballpark located a couple of miles away from Hohokam Stadium, will be renovated as well. Finch Park holds a lot of sentimental value for some of the older Cubs and for many of the current players who did the majority of their minor league training in that ballpark. It’s likely that updates and renovations will be made to Finch Park as well, so the A’s will have a good spot for years to come.
But the Cubs will have a great spot at Mesa Riverview. Construction is moving rapidly as the grounds have been leveled and structures of the stadium are already being built. The location will be much more fan friendly and convenient than the current location of Hohokam Stadium.
With the new park being right off the 101 and the 202, fans will be able to jump in and out from the ballpark a lot easier. Plus, it’s going to be a brand new facility that sits on a corner lot located next to a vast array of restaurants and stores. Traffic will probably be fair due to the other attractions surrounding the ballpark, but normally when there is a fair amount of traffic in one area then there is the means to keep that traffic moving, which I think will be the case at Mesa Riverview. It’s going to be a great facility, hands down, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out when it is all said and done. (More constructions photos are available at the end of the blog.)
One of the things I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate at Cubs spring training is the playing of an organ. The Cubs have to be one of the last teams to still use an organ to play music at the games instead of playing today’s current hits. Here in Arizona, I don’t remember any other team that has an organ player. The Hohokam Stadium organist is there and that’s the music that you have.
It’s funny when you hear “Electric Avenue” or anything by Michael Jackson or Led Zeppelin being played on organ. But it does have an old baseball feel to it, which I find to be fun. It takes getting used to but I’ve grown to like it during my time here in Mesa. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the walkout music. For instance, I can’t imagine Chipper Jones walking out to the plate and hearing “Crazy Train” being played on an organ. However, I don’t think it would have a difference in his Hall-of-Fame career had his signature walkout song been played on an organ.
One of the best parts of my daily routine in Mesa is lunch. It’s not just because I’m hungry and I’m ready to eat, but it’s because I get the opportunity to sit and eat lunch with some really great baseball people. Yesterday I got the chance to sit down with some of the Milwaukee Brewers’ broadcasters, including Brian Anderson who I found to be really interesting.
I consider Brian, a guy who spent nine years calling Minor League games and later on went to be a part of the Golf Channel, one of the best TV broadcasters that are out there. I had no idea that Brian was a guy who had spent so much time in the minors, and it’s inspirational because when you do this, you hope someone will notice you have talent and will give you an opportunity. So when you meet someone who took almost the same route as you and made it to the highest level, then that fuels the hopes that you have.
Over the years I’ve gotten to sit down at lunch with Peter Gammons and a lot of the Chicago beat writers I enjoy so much. I also got to sit down with Ken Korach, the voice of the Oakland A’s, and enjoyed talking to him. Ken told me about his days spent in Triple-A and he’s been with the A’s a long time now, which is also inspiring for me as a young broadcaster.
But that is one of the reasons I value that part of my day so much. I’m sure there are some guys I haven’t even thought about that I’ve gotten to eat lunch with and pick their brain. I’m really lucky in that capacity and lunchtime is one of the best times of the day for me because of that. I enjoy it and getting to just be around veteran broadcasters helps me because I’m able to pick up on things and get little tips that will help me become better at my job. When you are talking to guys here, they are at the top of the field for what I want to do.
Mesa Riverview Construction Photos