With the Chicago Cubs preparing a move to a new spring-training facility in 2014, the role of volunteers in ballpark operations is coming up, with the local HoHoKam group working to define their role there.
The HoHoKams are a local service organization who have been intimately involved in Mesa baseball since before 1952, when they induced the Cubs to move spring operations to the Phoenix-area city. Since then the group has been a partner to the Cubs on the opening of HoHoKam Park and daily operations for every spring training.
With the Cubs' move to a new Mesa facility in 2014, the role of the HoH0Kams isn't clear: the two sides have been meeting to define the group's responsibilities. On the one hand, spring training has grown to the point where volunteers can't -- and don't -- run total operations. But for groups like the HoHoKams, spring training is a vital fundraising tool, allowing them to translate a lot of hard work into needed cash for charity efforts. And the HoHoKams certainly have been a central part of the spring-training experience for Cubs fans for more than fifty years. As you attend spring training and begin looking around, you'll see how central volunteer efforts are in most ballparks. From the Arizona Republic:
“For 50 years, we virtually have been in charge of spring training,” Whalen said. “We did everything.”
Seeing them de-emphasized would be a great loss to the community and even to those buttoned-down sports teams.
Mesa is spending $84 million on the Cubs’ new stadium alone. Allowing the HoHoKams to keep their charity fundraising levels intact is the least the club can do. The Cubs should clear up this matter at once by signing a contract with the HoHoKams.