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A couple months ago, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts laid out a plan that would help fund planned renovations to Wrigley Field using a portion of the amusement tax collected on tickets to Chicago Cubs games. That plan was roundly castigated (except here), and crumbled under the weight of political grandstanding.

Grr! You want the taxpayers to pay for your private building after you just bought the Cubs for a gajillion dollars!? No more bailouts! Grr! Me angry! Me smash! Me no interest in listen to logical explanation! (I kid, I kid. I recognize that there were rational reasons to oppose the plan – they simply got lost in the deluge of ridiculous reasons.)

But that hasn’t deterred the Cubs, it seems, who still intend to incorporate a public portion into their plans to renovate.

We hear the Cubs are quietly working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field. In simple terms, the team would match its previous tax payments to the city — $16 million in 2009 — while keeping any tax revenue above the base for park renovations and perhaps construction of the long-planned triangle building. Once the team has what it plans built, the Cubs argue the additional business will increase taxes collected.

“The plan they came up with for this renovation was a non-starter,” governor Pat Quinn said Monday on ” Chicago Tribune Live” on Comcast SportsNet. “It didn’t have public support. They have to go back to the drawing boards.” chicagotribune.com.

The fact that the previous plan was a non-starter remains, to my mind, utterly ridiculous, but nevertheless, any plan that combines public and private funds makes (even if the public portion is now reduced) makes sense. This is particularly true where the public portion is coming from funds directly tied to Wrigley Field. The owners obviously get a value from a renovated Wrigley, and the public does as well – the nicer the facility, the more visitors you get (and more importantly) the more vendors sell.

  • pfk (Peter F. Kempf)

    Every important city in the country assists its franchises with stadiums.
    Anything “Wrigley” has always been a sore spot politically in Chicago because of the many years of Tribune-Daley bickering and it being “northside.”.
    That the owners botched the pr side of things and the behind closed door side (not informing Quinn) they, understandably (but stupidly) got shot down.
    They will go back and come up with a proposal that makes the politicians look like, “We stood up for the people,” while giving the Cubs what they need.
    Actually, the Triangle Building shouldn’t need anything as it makes sense from a commercial lending point of view just like any other commercial building project. Great ground floor retail, upstairs restaurant, Cubs hall of fame/museum with entry fee, etc.
    They’ll get the dough they need and it will be the best thing to happen to Wrigley, the franchise and the neighborhood in decades.

    • Ace

      Good points. Makes sense.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    The neighborhood and the city have long pretended they’d be better off without Wrigley Field. The Cubs should show them just how wrong they are.

    • Ace

      Think those companies that move houses can move Wrigley? Probably have to cut it in half first…

      • Raymond Robert Koenig

        Ricketts should bite the bullet. Give the city one more chance. If they hedge, tell them he’s going to move the team as soon as possible.

        • ed

          With all due respect; you’re bananas.

          • BT

            Actually, if the city/state keeps blowing the Cubs off, I can almost guarantee you that the Ricketts’ will try that approach. The city of Chicago, and specifically dozens of businesses in Wrigleyville have almost everything to lose if the Cubs move. The Cubs have all the leverage in a situation like that. They will use that leverage if they have to.

            • Ace

              While I agree with you in principle (cities must recognize the value that their local franchises provide, and should pony up accordingly), it’s hard to imagine the situation being the same here, where there is so much history and relative uniqueness to the Cubs and Wrigley. The public backlash – even if the plan worked – would be brutal, and could be damaging long-term.

              • BT

                I’m thinking the Cubs road attendance pretty much proves Cubs fans will follow the Cubs anywhere. If Addison says they have room for the Cubs to play out West, the Cubs would be foolish not to play the “Wrigley is too expensive to maintain to allow us to compete” card. Yes, there would be much gnashing of teeth, but people would come. But I don’t think it would even come to that.

                It would be tough on the city for the Cubs to move, but I can promise you that whomever the alderman is for Wrigleyville, he will be bending over backwards to accommodate whatever requests the Cubs have. If the Cubs were to move, there would suddenly be 100 restaurants and bars surrounding a museum. It’s not feasible.

                • pfk (Peter F. Kempf)

                  Good to see that nobody is getting hysterical and coming up with crazy ideas!!
                  I wish Mike Royko were still alive, he’d have a blast with all this talk.
                  Actually, it would be fun to see someone plant a rumor that they are looking at sites in Addison or in Lake County. They could play it like they did with Naples, FL for spring training. The response would be precious.
                  Fact is, moving them would be a huge business mistake for the Rickets. They can get what they need without playing the, “Give us the money or were outta here” card. And, we’d all much rather watch them at Wrigley on Addison, the street, than Addison the burb.

                  • BT

                    So suggesting that a team might have to move out of a 100 year old stadium because the upkeep is getting too expensive and the state won’t help out is “hysterical”? The Yankees can move out of Yankee stadium, but the idea the the Cubs might move is “crazy”?

                    Tell you what. See what happens if/when the state doesn’t come through with any cash. We’ll see who is crazy.

                    • pfk (Peter F. Kempf)

                      First, the Yankee Stadium from which they moved was not the original Yankee Stadium. In 1973 the original Yankee Stadium was basically demolished and rebuilt with considerable help from the City and the State, requiring them to play at Shea for 2 years. The historic appeal was gone. Second, the new Yankee Stadium, was also built with considerable government support ($1.2 billion of taxpayer subsidies of the total of $2.3 billion) is right next door as opposed to 30 miles away in a suburb. In both instances there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth over the cost and government help. They got the help, as did the Mets. The Cubs will get help too, just as the White Sox did. Patience and a sound process will get the job done. The Cubs have never even tried this before with much zeal. The thing with former Governor Thompson was just trial balloons, no real attempt.

                    • Ace

                      Sound process? That’s already flown way out the window, pfk.

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