Mesa Historical Society weighs moving Spring Training museum, other options

Mesa Historical Society weighs moving Spring Training museum, other options

Eric Mungenast, East Valley Tribune

A recent decision to remove the Spring Training Museum from November’s Mesa bond election has organizers considering the project’s next step, which could include relocating it to a different city.

During a study session at the July 8 Mesa City Council meeting, Mesa Historical Museum CEO Lisa Anderson requested the council remove the $17 million Spring Training Experience — formerly called the Cactus League Experience — item from the bond election package. The council agreed to remove it and approved the other bond items totaling $130 million.

“The whole thing came about fairly quickly, and I think that’s what led to the decision to hold back,” said Highground vice president of community affairs and project spokesperson Robert Johnson in a recent interview. “In the end, we decided it would be better to wait a little longer.”

At the meeting, Anderson said the Historical Museum wanted to explore new opportunities that arose in the week following discussion of the Spring Training Experience Play Ball! exhibit at a July 1 study session. One of the opportunities Johnson mentioned was moving the location of the Spring Training Experience out of Mesa and to a different Valley city if an agreement isn’t worked out. “Everyone has a say in how this goes; we’ll see,” he said.
Johnson, who didn’t say which cities were in contention, emphasized Mesa “remains in the lead” because it’s the place where the idea for the museum was created.

The proposed location for the museum in Mesa is near the Chicago Cubs’ new stadium, also known as “Wrigleyville West” scheduled to open for the 2014 Spring Training season.

“If we can get the right arrangement, the right agreement, that’s where it will be,” he said. The Historical Museum currently operates the essence of the Spring Training Experiences under the auspices of its Play Ball! exhibit, which features approximately 4,000 pieces of baseball memorabilia at its site in Mesa located at 51 E. Main Street. Johson said the Play Ball! exhibit will remain at the downtown Mesa location until a permanent facility is completed.

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