Tom Ricketts Responds to the Wrigley Field Renovation Funding Stories

This past week, we’ve heard a great deal of buzz about the city of Chicago finally agreeing to help fund the renovations at Wrigley Field (however small or large that help might be), but the Cubs have mostly rested on a form of “no comment.”

With Opening Day cranking up the attention yesterday, it was, presumably, harder for the Cubs not to say anything. So Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts chatted a bit more about the funding issue, and where things stand from his perspective.

Still, he wasn’t ready to give up too many details.

“Everyone should wait until we have the whole plan together,” Ricketts told Paul Sullivan when asked about the funding of Wrigley Field renovations. Ricketts characterized the status of talks with appropriate political officers as just “conversations.

“Once people see what we get out there, everyone will know it’s a win-win for the city, for jobs, tourism, for development,” Ricketts added. “It’ll be a big win for everybody. I don’t think anyone will have any issues once we figure out what the final solution is.”

Ricketts carried that win-win and “we’re talking” themes into an interview on The Waddle and Silvy Show.

“I don’t know [when the renovation will get done]. What I do know is that all the elected officials, we’re talking,” Ricketts said. “Everybody is kind of going in the same direction. It’s a lot of work to come up with something that’s a great win-win for the city and the team so we’re working with not only the city but the state and the county. Everybody has got to come up with something … it’s got to work for everybody or it doesn’t work. We’ve got a great conversation going and hopefully we’ll have something pretty soon that everybody agrees is the right answer.”

Ricketts added that the renovations are absolutely necessary just to keep Wrigley Field up and running. And many of the renovations should have come a long time ago.

“The big picture is the park has got to stand for 50 more years. It’s been really under-invested in over time,” Ricketts said. “The Tribune was a good owner, but it was an ROI [return on investment] kind of decision as to whether they put money in the park. I think before the Tribune baseball teams didn’t make a lot of money. It was hard to put a lot of money into an old park even in the ‘70s. It’s been under-invested. We need to get it up to speed. We need a lot of money to re-do electrical, sewage, all the stuff that is 100 years old. We’ve got a lot on our plate, but we’re going to get it done.”

There are no surprises there, right down to the Tribune Company practically inventing the concept of making a killing off owning a baseball team. The implication, of course, is that the Ricketts Family isn’t interested in behaving the same way, and, call me naive, but I believe Tom. Family ownership can be a very good thing for fans.

As for Wrigley Field, the uptick in chatter from both sides could simply be the product of an off-the-cuff comment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel combined with Opening Day. Or, it could be the product of discussions reaching the point where an agreement is close, and an announcement is forthcoming.

Let’s call it now: the Friday after the Cubs’ first four-game losing streak, you can mark your calendar for a press conference.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

24 responses to “Tom Ricketts Responds to the Wrigley Field Renovation Funding Stories”

  1. rcleven

    At what cost does the rehab of Wrigley outweigh of the rebuilding of a new stadium ?

    1. Chris84

      The question is, where do you build it? The days of building mega-stadiums in the suburbs are long gone and the need to be near public transportation is a big deal. You can’t tear down Wrigley because of it’s landmark status. You can’t really build on the south side, because that’s where the Sox are. West? The further west you go, the less public transportation is available. Plus, dealing with 290 at any given time that isn’t 2:00 a.m. is a nightmare.

      Personally, I support renovating Wrigley, not only because I genuinely like the park, but because I don’t see there being a realistic alternative. The location is a big part of the draw.

      1. Noah

        Heading northwest on I-90 would be just as bad. I agree, I don’t see the feasible alternative. In smaller towns it’s ok to have it near downtown and make the easiest way to get to the park to drive, because traffic’s never that bad anyways. That is completely not the case in Chicago.

        1. Chris84

          Yeah, I live on the Northwest side. I can’t imagine anywhere along 90 or 94. While probably 90% of my neighborhood is comprised of Cubs fans, 100% of them wouldn’t want Wrigley in their backyard.

        2. Frank

          Oh yeah–heading northwest on I-90 is horrible. It’s backed up for days if anything’s going on at the Allstate and that only holds about 19,000. Imagine what it might be like with a stadium that held 40,000 or more. And there isn’t really anywhere with a good infrastructure of streets to handle traffic around a stadium. All that would have to be constructed too.

      2. JustSwain

        I live in Minneapolis, and have seen a few games at Target field, which has a small occupancy, but is built straight in Downtown. Minneapolis is a very small city, Target field is built on both a light rail line, and a convergence of two major expressways. The traffic getting out of the ample parking around Target Field is a nightmare. I’ve been in my parking garage for an hour before waiting to get out. I’m trying to imagine that in Chicago, and what I come up with is a West Side Nightmare. Besides, tear down Wrigley? Seriously? Why not just be a Brewers fan?

  2. Mike Foster

    “first four game losing streak”? Gee, you’re a real positive thinker….NOT! And a bit cynical about the timing….working to fit in with the Chi-town media there Brett?

    1. drew

      Id go back and read the post again so you understand the context. Hes referring only to the timing of an announcement.

      1. Mike Foster

        OK, so I reread it…..same comment.

  3. Rooster

    Chicago Cubs
    Organizational grades:
    Hitting: B+ … Pitching: C+ … Top End Talent: C+ … Depth: B … Overall: B

    Jackson and Rizzo top 2. I expect Jackson up soon and the LaHair experiement is DONE. DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT! Fly Byrd fly. Rizzo is ready.

    Pitching C+….DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT.

  4. Ryan

    I don’t think Jackson will be up till june they want the extra year of control. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they keep Rizzo down until at least July as well for the extra control. The new CBA limits the amout of $ teams can spend on draft picks without losing picks. So while the Cubs need to hopefully draft better which anyone drafted likely won’t see Chicago untill 2014 at the earliest the quickest way to get talent in the system is trades

  5. brucky9

    HOFFMAN ESTATES!!!!. 1st,I’ve always believed Cubs ownership had Chicago over a barrel if they chose to be vindictive. Wrigleyville has been unbelievably ungrateful over the last nearly 30 years since Wrigley added lights. Wrigleyvillians have been fighting the addition of night games as if the Cubs were going to introduce a neighborhood prostitution program. “No,it will interfere with our parking!” they whine. I’ve heard rumors of a new stadium location in Hoffman estates for over 30 years. Right off interstate 90. Still,critics of a move say that the Wrigley/Wrigleyville mystique would be gone forever. Let’s be honest. What do we really love about Wrigley field? The field. That place outside the bowels of Wrigley. Where the players do their thing is what we love. We love the ivy. The magical atmosphere up the steps,and on to that beautiful field. Does anyone love the seats? No? Does anyone love the concession area? No? Parking? Ease of access? How about the players? Do they love their locker rooms? Their batting cages? Bullpens? Do you think Sveum loves his tiny office? His interview room? I know,I know,get on with it and quit pounding the drum. The fact is,the Cubs have a very desirable location to move to,(not to mention it’s 20 minutes from my house) but I wouldn’t want to see the Cubs move out of Chicago. I believe the Cubs are holding an heavily stacked deck in their favor though. Wrigleyville would become a smoking hole of economic collapse if the Cubs moved out. If the Ricketts chose to play hardball I think they could name their price. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could close Clark,Addison,Waveland and Sheffield,allowing the stadium to expand outward? Push the concessions farther away from the field? Push the bleachers 30 rows toward the street? 20 more night games?The truth is,Wrigleyville will never have the expansion space it needs unless they can commandeer some connecting real estate. The street. One has to wonder if moving from Chicago to the burbs iswould not only be prudent,but inevitable.

    1. JustSwain

      The Hoffman Estates Cubs? Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, also correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Hoffman Estates way off in the middle of nowhere? Attendance would nose dive for the Cubs if they moved out of Wrigley. My wife, who can barely sit through a baseball game, has been bugging me for years to take her to Wrigley. Its the combination of casual fans who like Wrigley field because it is a Chicago Landmark, and hardcore enthusiasts like the people who frequent these pages who make up the Cubs fan base (unless they make the playoffs, then Chicago is united). The Cubs and Boston are caught in a paradox. They would need extra revenues to pay off the cost of a new field, but their attendance would probably tank if they changed ballparks. Renovation is the only answer, and its the only one seriously considered by the Ricketts family and the city of Chicago. Hoffman Estates might be trying to court the Cubs, but not even the White Sox play in the burbs.

      1. Mike B.

        I’ll attempt to limit my outrage and the very thought of moving the Cubs out of Wrigley. Putting aside revenue for a second, Wrigley’s intrinsic value to the fans can not be ignored and it would be naive to think that can be replicated elsewhere. Generations have watched baseball there and, even if the results were less than ideal, the history can not be denied.

        From a business perspective, even if Ricketts poured in significantly more money in renovations compared to a new stadium, the revenue he’ll receive in return will more than the justify the cost. Tourists are not interested in travelling to “Hoffman Estates Stadium, home of the Cubs”, they want to come to Chicago, to Wrigley Field and enjoy the best place to watch a baseball game. Ever. I could go on but I’ll leave it at that.

        In short…seriously???

        1. Rich G

          I couldn’t care less if the Cubs bulldoze Wrigley if it lets them further their revenue streams such that the team is improved and has success in the playoffs.

          Somehow the Brewers manage to draw in their nice, new, beautiful park that’s not exactly downtown.

          I bet the people who wouldn’t come due to some personal outrage would be somewhat offset by the ‘new’ people would would go somewhere that had decent parking and amenities. Whether they keep coming…that’s hard to say.

          At the very least I believe they should rebuild the grandstand in some way.

          1. BeyondFukudome

            Amen. Compare Camden Yards to Wrigley and then try to tell me that a state-of-the-art, retro-style stadium built on the same location today would not be vastly prefereable to an alleged historical treasure from the dark ages.

  6. Mike B.

    Luckily, you’re in the grand minority. In the end, Wrigley will receive a renovation and will be enjoyed by generations to come. If you prefer the great amenities of a newer ballpark, I hear they have one on the southside you can enjoy.

    1. Rich G

      Ok, but if you renovate the grandstand (the bleachers have already been completely rebuilt) isn’t this a new park anyway? (George Washington’s axe)

      I have to believe they’d totally gut the grandstand or maybe even do a complete re-buld.

  7. Mike B.

    I agree – I’m sure there will be major renovations to most of the ballpark (especially if the $400M renovation budget is finalized) and I wouldn’t be surprised if that includes a total gut of the grandstand. At this point, I’m not so much interested in new stadium vs renovation (since a renovation is a certainty) but each item on the punchlist along with timing. With so much to be done, when are they possibly going to get this in without forcing the Cubs to play elsewhere for a season?

  8. die hard

    By the All-Star game this motley 25 win crew wont get money to move in to the Old Thillens stadium

  9. bricky9

    You youngsters make me chuckle. You obviously don’t remember the Cubs of the 70′s. They regularly had attendances in the 1′s of thousands. You live with the luxurious notion that Wrigley field is the cash cow that drives the Cubs. Since 1914 the Cubs have rolled with the highs and woes of solid attendance. How shallow would be as Cub fans if our allegiances were tied to the park,and not the team? Although it could be said Wrigley has never won a world series,I’ve never heard anyone say that. Also,Hoffman Estates is right next to O’hare airport. You’ve heard of that haven’t you? You know,the place where the big shiny things fly……??? Never mind. Any way,the Angels have been playing out of Anaheim,which is at least 60 miles south of LA,and they still call themselves the LA Angels. I’m not saying they SHOULD move the Cubs out of town,I’m just saying it would be a lot nicer experience for everyone if they bulldozed half of Wrigleyville,and allowed room for expansion.

  10. rocky8263

    Without looking at a map I know Hoffman Estates is at least 15 miles from Ohare. You might be thinking of Rosemont. What a new stadium cannot duplicate, what only Wrigley Field can provide when the place is really rocking is the literal shaking of the grandstands. I’ve told the story here before and I hope to experience it again. Late in the second playoff game against the Dodgers bases loaded two outs Theriot at the plate the place was the loudest I’ve ever experienced. It was vibrating. Of course Theriot struck out and you know the rest. In reference to Cubs games in the 70′s they were lucky to draw one million for the season. I take exception with the claim there were only 1,000′s of fans.You’re thinking of the White Sox in the 70′s. I know for a fact there were games with less then 5000 fans in the park.

  11. florida Al

    US jailcell-uar field…really??you called it nice…its pretty average..maybe an upgrade over a 100 yr old stadium but believe me its not an upgrade over what a new ballpark and its amenities would be..play somewhere else for a yr or two bulldoze wrigley and start from scratch.. buy some neihboring properties and reinevent the new wrigley…..