Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has never been on board with the idea that the state would use public funds for a renovation of Wrigley Field. When the Ricketts Family first floated the idea that the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois could help chip in on a renovation project in 2010, Quinn wasn’t interested:
“We have top priorities in Illinois right now that must be dealt with,” Quinn said, adding that the Ricketts family’s proposal “would not be a top priority for me.”
The governor also has his nose out of joint that the Cubs shared their plan with House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) but left Quinn out of the loop.
“Apparently, they don’t think I’m as important as some others,” Quinn said. “I am important in this matter because I’m goalie for the people of Illinois to make sure they get their top priorities addressed.”
Let’s set aside the fact that the state of Illinois, on Quinn’s watch, helped fund construction of the multimillion “Bacardi at the Park” restaurant at U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox just a couple years ago, and pretend this isn’t the height of hypocrisy. Then we can accept as credible Quinn’s renewed indignation at recent reports that the Cubs and the city of Chicago are close to working out an agreement that would lead to a shared funding approach for a Wrigley Field renovation.
The renewed indignation, from Crain’s:
“I’m not excited about that at all,” Mr. Quinn said on the “Don Wade & Roma Show” on WLS-AM/890. “Our state has severe fiscal challenges, so the very idea of the state of Illinois spending millions and millions of dollars on Wrigley Field, I don’t think that’s in the cards at all.”
Added the guv: The Ricketts family “bought the team, and they should make the lion’s share of the investment to fix up the park.”
It’s not clear at this time what level of involvement – in terms of cash, man-power, political will, etc. – the state would have in the renovation plan under consideration, so it’s possible this is just political bloviating. Even if it isn’t, it’s not clear what Quinn means by “spending millions and millions of dollars on Wrigley Field.” That leaves open the possibility of spending a little on Wrigley Field, and then “millions and millions” on surrounding projects (for example, the Triangle Building project, which will not only help the Cubs, but will provide multi-use facilities to the community).
That explanation is consistent with a follow-up statement, issued on behalf of the Ricketts Family. The statement also emphasizes that the Ricketts are more than willing to share the load:
The Ricketts family agrees with the governor and is working with city, county and state government leaders to invest significant levels of private and family dollars to preserve and improve Wrigley Field and create thousands of jobs.
As usual, we’ll just have to be patient, and see where this goes.