Offseason acquisitions, including World Series-winning pitcher Jon Lester and well-respected manager Joe Maddon, have fans of the franchise more optimistic than ever that the Cubs can get themselves back into the title contention picture.
Cubs ownership is upping the ante as well at 101-year-old Wrigley Field where a major renovation of the iconic Chicago ballpark is underway that includes, among many planned upgrades, the installation of new bleachers and a large video board.
The improvements also extend to Mesa, Ariz. — the team’s longtime spring training base. Last year the Cubs opened a new state-of-the-art spring training ballpark and performance center in the suburban Phoenix city (where it has held spring training continuously since 1979 and has trained there dating back to the 1950s and the establishment of the Cactus League).
A recent partnership agreement with Franklin Park, Ill.-based commercial restroom products manufacturer Sloan Valve has taken things to the next level. Sloan signed on as a Cubs Legacy Partner and the official water-efficiency partner of the club. As part of the partnership, the Cubs’ spring training ballpark has been renamed Sloan Park. A spring training opening-day gala was hosted by Sloan at the ball field earlier this month.
Sloan will assist the Cubs in growing its ongoing sustainability efforts at Sloan Park and Wrigley Field. Sloan and the Cubs, however, are no strangers to each other. Sloan products have been in Wrigley Field since 1914.
“Our partnership with the Chicago Cubs organization gives us the opportunity to help build winning teams through sustainable solutions,” Sloan President Jim Allen said when the partnership was announced earlier this year.
Widespread water savings
Sloan already had its products specified in both Sloan Park and the adjacent Under Armour Performance Center where players have year-round access to a two-story weight and cardiovascular facility with elite training equipment, a hydrotherapy room, 120-seat theater, video room and cafeteria. Work is underway to completely outfit both facilities with Sloan water-efficient products.
When work is complete, both facilities will sport Sloan ST 2059 water closets with 1.28-gpf flush valves; 0.125-gpf wash-down urinals; Basys faucets with 0.5-gpm low-flow aerators; and AC11 2.0-gpm showerheads. A total of 206 Sloan lavatories and 107 showerheads will deliver water-saving features.
“At the top of the list here is water conservation,” says Val Galvan, of Gilbert, Ariz.-based Southwestern Mechanical Sales Co., a Sloan manufacturers representative working on the Sloan Park project. “The fact is we are in the desert and we need to do everything we can to save water for sustainability and cost reasons.”
Justin Piper, the Cubs General Manager of Spring Training Operations in Mesa, notes the water-savings initiative takes on an even greater importance when one drills down to the scope of the two side-by-side facilities.
“We have two parts to our operation,” he says. “With Sloan Park there are all the public events with the marquee ones being spring training games. We also have other baseball and non-baseball events that occur year-round. The other part here is player development. We are operating year-round with the Under Armour Performance Center. We have to make sure we are mindful of water usage. Being in the Southwest, water waste and water conservation are topics in the news.”
Galvan says the use of Sloan’s state-of-the-art Basys faucets will be a difference-maker both in terms of water efficiency and hygiene considerations. He adds the showerhead conversion will benefit users while also factoring into the water-savings movement. “The way we mix the air and the water in the showerhead, guys will feel like they are getting more water, but that’s because of the mixture coming out,” he notes.
Piper adds the hygiene component with the Basys sensor-activated faucets also is critical. “It’s one factor outside the water-conservation area that is equally important to us,” he says. “With the amount of players here in spring training and the number of players that come through here throughout the year that are using common facilities, the automated faucets not only provide greater water efficiencies but greater hygiene as well. It’s also important for our doctors and training staff.”
No strangers to water conservation
Galvan and the folks at Southwestern Mechanical Sales are well-versed in working on green commercial projects in the Southwest. The firm has offices in Arizona and southern Nevada and primarily concentrates on bid and spec projects in the commercial plumbing market.
The 21-person firm has worked on a host of recent institutional jobs, including Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University and Northern Arizona University, as well as a multitude of military projects. In Las Vegas, the firm has worked on a number of casino jobs (Wynn being one) and currently is working on the new Mandalay Bay convention center project. “We specialize in water and energy savings,” Galvan says.
Ballpark projects in the area also are in Southwestern Mechanical Sales’ bailiwick.
In addition to Sloan Park, the firm has worked on spring training facilities in Goodyear and Peoria, Ariz. The Dodgers’ park in Goodyear features Sloan products.
Galvan notes Sloan water-conserving products have been topics of conversation in the company’s other non-baseball jobs, particularly when it comes to the manufacturer’s new technology package that combines the lavatory, faucet and hand dryer into one central location.
“With that product the architects and designers we are seeing can’t wait to implement something like that into designs because you have everything in that one location,” he says. “The best thing with Sloan’s products is the longevity and the innovation. It’s easy to specify Sloan products with the tools they give us and with their commitment to sustainability. We have the best of both worlds. The products have the Sloan name behind them and that commitment to sustainability.”
The magic numbers
With Sloan Park entering only its second year of operation, Cubs officials say exact data on how much water is being saved with the low-flow fixtures in place won’t be known until after this season. Galvan, though, ventures an educated guess.
“It’s difficult to do until we get some good usage under our belts,” he says. “But with the urinals and flush valves already in there and based on those faucets being able to turn off when people aren’t around them, you might see a 20 to 25% savings. Those lavs will eliminate a lot of water waste. The thing we do know is those products are going to save them water and money.”
The partnership between the Cubs and Sloan is music to the city of Mesa’s ears. The city long has championed water sustainability and is one of numerous entities that comprise the Water Use it Wisely conservation campaign.
“The city has programs through our water resources department that encourage water conservation and things such as xeriscape efforts,” City of Mesa Spokesman Steve Wright says. “The city received a grant about a year ago that helped us convert all the landscaping outside City Hall to xeriscape, low-water use. We also encourage residents to let their winter lawns go dormant and then revive them in the spring. We take water usage extremely seriously.
“With the requirements we have in these types of facilities to use water-efficient products, that’s right up Sloan’s alley and it’s what the Cubs chose to use. This is a perfect partnership between two great organizations based out of Chicago.”
In its debut season last year in the new ballpark, Piper notes the club drew 213,815 fans to spring training games. He fully expects that number will again be north of 200,000 this spring. The stadium has a seating capacity of 14,100 and there were several times last year when attendance ballooned to 15,000 with standing room patrons factored in.
With that high level of traffic predicted plus the constant stream of players in the nearby Performance Center, Piper says the partnership with Sloan is a natural fit.
“It makes so much sense to utilize their products and continue to increase our water-efficiency efforts,” he says.
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