By Gary Nelson for The Arizona Republic
People who are criticizing plans for the Chicago Cubs’ new Mesa stadium may be jumping the gun, Mayor Scott Smith said this week.
Long-awaited drawings of the facility were released last month, showing far fewer Chicago-esque architectural flourishes than were included in preliminary sketches pitched to voters before they approved the project in 2010.
Newspaper editorials and some letters to the editor were not complimentary. But Smith said the newest sketches are still preliminary.
The final product, he said, will depend on how much it costs to build other parts of the baseball complex and whether the Cubs are willing to spend any of their own money on it.
Mesa is committed to spending no more than $84 million for the stadium and $15 million for associated infrastructure.
But the stadium, he said, will mesh nicely with what Mesa and the Cubs hope to be an “overall experience” that includes commercial development and the park itself.
Construction won’t begin in earnest, however, until after the official groundbreaking on July 11, which city officials have said they want to turn into a community celebration.
Renderings of a final site plan have yet to be released, and Smith indicated that elements of the complex are still being hashed out.
Mesa turned to voters to approve the project in 2010 after the Cubs entertained offers from Florida business interests to move there and the Arizona Legislature refused to approve a funding mechanism for the Mesa stadium.
As for Riverview Park itself, Smith said its redevelopment will occur in stages.
Beyond that, money for Riverview could come from a bond issue, from the parks department’s operating budget or from future land sales in the Riverview complex.
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