Work, play to mix at office building
Employees able to watch baseball from their desks

The Peoria Center at Arrowhead, consisting of twin 42,000-square-foot office buildings, is being built on a dirt parking lot about 500 feet from home plate at the stadium the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners call home during spring training.

Located directly across from the Peoria Sports Complex, near Bell Road and Loop 101, the 7.7-acre office park won't be completed until April, less than a month after spring training wraps up in the Valley.

But the concrete and steel complex being developed by Chicago-based Alter Group already is generating buzz among prospective tenants.

CMX Engineering of Phoenix signed the first lease and plans to establish a new satellite office. It staked out a second-floor space with an unimpeded view of the 7,000-seat stadium.

"We negotiated the best seats in the house," CMX Chief Financial Officer Eric Teel said. "It's not our primary purpose for moving there, but it's kind of the cool factor."

For CMX, the sports complex has special meaning.

Peoria, which owns the baseball complex and the land on which the office project is being built, hired the engineering company to manage construction of the stadium and 12 other practice fields during the 1990s.

But life won't be all home runs and strikeouts.

With spring training only about a month long, CMX employees will be gazing out onto an empty baseball diamond most of the year. Either that or a sea of teenagers during one of the punk rock or metal concerts held on the grounds each summer.

CMX President Mike Lloyd doesn't think either the metal bands or the boys of summer will distract his employees.

The benefits - a new building with a view, an abundance of restaurants and amenities nearby, and closer commutes for West Valley workers - far outweigh any potential negatives, Lloyd said.

'A little character'
Not only will the offices provide a new vantage point from which to watch games, they will affect how paying spectators see ballgames, as well, said Joe Mock, who runs www.baseballparks.com, a Web site devoted to ballparks.

"It will add a little something to the view from inside the stadium," Mock said in a telephone interview. "Skylines are very interesting when you are in the seating bowl looking out to center field."

That observation resonated with Peoria Stadium vendor Steve Towey, a former minor-league ball player from Seattle. He said the office park "adds a little character" to the stadium, even though it is eliminating about 500 parking spaces.

"I think it's neat," said Towey, who follows the Mariners to Peoria each spring to sell his trademarked chocolate-dipped fruit on a stick. "It won't be a dusty dirt bowl like it was last year."