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During the whole Joe Ricketts/President Obama/Mayor Emanuel/Wrigley Field flap, Chicago Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts offered some non-political comments (as well as a number of comments that go a bit more to the political flap than the funding flap) to the Sun-Times on the status of the renovation project. Given the incendiary nature of that issue, I thought it best to give it a few days before writing about those comments.

Among Ricketts’ thoughts, in an exclusive interview with the Sun-Times:

  • The Cubs hope to break ground on the renovations by this Fall, and would thus like to have a vote on funding plans in the Spring session of the Illinois General Assembly. That session adjourns in eight days, on May 31. Again: the timing of this flap was really, really bad.
  • If the Cubs can’t get funding approved in time to break ground in the Fall, the renovation would have to be pushed back an entire year. That’s because the Cubs plan to conduct the renovation over three or four off-seasons. My thought: 2016 is the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs playing at Wrigley Field, so you better believe that’s when the Cubs want to be done with the renovation.
  • Ricketts told the Sun-Times that he hasn’t made a final decision on a Jumbotron, but said that new outfield signs would be done “in a tasteful way maintaining that delicate balance” and that’s he’s willing to work with the Wrigleyville rooftops on “ways to work together to generate revenue” that might include “advertising on their buildings.” That’s a mighty creative solution right there, and one I’m surprised the Cubs and rooftop owners haven’t already developed together.
  • The timing of the controversy was particularly bad given the NATO visit over the weekend, and Mayor Emanuel’s necessary preoccupation with that. It was understandably hard to get through to the Mayor – who had been working with the Cubs on a funding plan – to explain that the Cubs, and Tom Ricketts, have absolutely nothing to do with Joe Ricketts’ politics. At the time of the interview this weekend, Tom wasn’t worried about not having received return phone calls from the Mayor, given how busy his weekend was. We haven’t yet heard if the two have since spoken.
  • On his father’s politics and the problems they can cause for the Cubs: “I’m not really involved in what my father does on the political side, and he’s not involved in anything we do as a team. We talked. I didn’t yell. He was already in the process of putting out a statement that made it clear he rejected the proposal. He knows it’s very important for us to maintain the image of the Cubs at the highest level. He understands that would complicate some of our efforts on the funding side. But we didn’t spend time talking about it. It was more like, `These are the cards we’ve been dealt. Let’s address the issue.’”
  • On working together with Mayor Emanuel to continue progress on a funding plan for Wrigley: “We look forward to setting aside some of the emotion and focusing on the fact that this is a great project and a great deal for the city and state that creates 2,100 jobs, generates more tax revenue and saves Wrigley Field. Events of the last 36 hours have been a big distraction that has gotten us off course. But hopefully we can have it back on track soon.”
  • Ricketts isn’t ready to entertain a back-up plan if these conversations with the city and State fall apart: “Right now, we’re just optimistic we can get this back on track, get it done and move forward. If it’s not gonna happen, we’ll have to think of something else. It’s a lot of work to get to this point with one idea, much less develop a Plan B.”

The article also has some more political controversy type stuff in it, if you’re still into that angle.

All in all, I remain hopeful that a deal can be struck, which would allow the Cubs to proceed this Fall. There’s just too much for everyone to lose if this thing falls apart. If the Cubs now have to pony up a little more to get the deal done, that’s the way the cookie crumbles, and the price of controversy. I don’t like it, but I’d like it even less if the Cubs had to push back the renovation plan another year (or worse, go back to the drawing board entirely).

  • calicubsfan007

    Hopefully, the stadium is able to be renovated because there would be something missing if the Cubs didnt have Wrigley. And in the end, everything becomes political. Thats why I hate politics.

  • Matt

    I find it hard to believe that someone who comes from a family of billion-dollar entrepreneurship do not already have a back-up plan installed in the event that funding falls through.

    If that is the case, however, God help the Cubs under Ricketts’ ownership.

  • Deer

    At least we’ll know something in 8 days, if not sooner. I’m sure Tom is really, really hoping for a phone call this week.

  • True(ly) Blue

    Wrigley Field itself and the surrounding bars and restaurants are responsible for at least half of tickets sold. Rickets has no leverage ( IE: Move to the ‘burbs, a la Sox) to push the city to help renovate the park as then attendance would reflect the quality of the team. I think that the only leverage that he has is to go to court and get the “Historical Landmark” identity removed so that they can change the park to make it more revenue friendly.

    • rocky8263

      “Wrigley Field itself and the surrounding bars and restaurants are responsible for at least half of tickets sold.” Inaccurate comment. Each game somewhere between 25 to 30 K tickets are season ticket holders. I forget the actual number. The park holds a bit over 40,000. I’m one of the suckers that has four to each game.

      • Diesel

        You can donate them to me so I can see Wrigley more often if you don’t want to be a sucker anymore.

  • Cheryl

    It would be nice if a deal was struck, but the Ricketts aren’t the only ones that will have problems if it falls through. NATO cost the city big bucks and Wrigley brings in needed revenue. Plus, Emanuel would have to face the potential loss of all those jobs. Emanuel will have to weigh the costs for himself and the city. Wish politics wasnt a part of this deal, but it is.

  • Ivy Walls

    the road to Hades is laid with brick after brick of the best intentions; (great project etc.) where lack of foresight and judgment creates a political situation.

    It is what it is, politics (in that they need or want public funding and public okay to do certain things to public access and landmark status) and baseball, two emotional mindsets, oh and plus big money.

    But I have a secondary theory running undercurrent….this whole situation might be to put Joe back in a box….if Joe wants to see his kids succeed.

  • al

    Tom Ricketts needs to hire a PR crisis management firm and get some professional help.

    • aCubsFan

      I can’t agree more Al. For everyone thinking anything gets done in the next 8 days, it’s not going to happen. Ricketts better be ready to go it alone on any renovation to Wrigley and as others have said if Ricketts doesn’t have a Plan B in place already the Cubs are in bad hands. But it could be that Ricketts has one but he is trying to hold those cards close to the vest holding out hope he can recover the lost momentum.

  • Cubs Dude

    Do Tom and his dad talk much? How in the hell could they allow something like this to come out now? And even if Joe Ricketts has nothing to do with the Cubs, he is completely screwing his kids that do. Does he not know that? Or Care much? Or think much? This whole thing is completely ridiculous.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Honestly, not to discount the sheer stupidity of Joe’s actions given what is being asked for, I’m not certain that Emmanuel and Chicago are the largest problem. I’m not a fan of the President’s, but Joe’s actions while breathtakingly ignorant and difficult to assess as to damages, are not the primary problem.

    The state of Illinois is an absolute mess and facing funding issues reminiscent of the old Soviet Union. While they have discounted payables and realistically will never pay some, it too is only a small part of the issue facing all of us. The larger issue funding holes on pensions, actually gaps on defined benefits committed. Our officials have borrowed spent and failed to fund promised benefits and now we are living moment to moment on a hope and a prayer. They have come to the end of their rope after raising taxes several years ago, now have to go deeper in an attempt to fix it.

    I give you that to give you a sense of the climate in which this whole thing occurs. If and it;s a huge if, Madigan can be convinced to take this up in light of the decisions looming for our elected officials, maybe it happens, but color me doubtful I don’t see Quinn or anyone in Springfield coming anywhere near this, even absent Joe’s stupidity, they have to large of a problem and public financing of Wrigley and the Cubs would probably cost some people there jobs. Not sure it’s going to happen.

    • Cheryl

      Yes and more and more businesses can’t afford to stay with it in terms of what’s being asked for in taxes. You may be right. This could be a convenient way to abandon any cubs funding for the present.

    • aCubsFan

      Mike you are dead on. No one in the state will touch this topic not now. Additionally, Quinn has been very vocal that he would not entertain any funding for the Cubs.

  • rcleven

    Politics do not belong in any private business. Rickett’s knew what he was getting into before he bought the Cubs. If he needs money go to the bond market. Perhaps go public and Issue stock( Works for the GB Packers). This State is near bankrupt now.

  • LWeb23

    Unrelated, but if anyone’s counting, make that 16 HR’s for Rizzo.

  • Ron

    Brett, you usually are pretty good at taking apart what people say, did you catch the sentence from TR that included “save Wrigley Field”? Do you think this was a veiled threat of his own?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t – at least not about moving or anything like that. I think he’s just “threatening” that the park is falling apart.

    • aCubsFan

      And who’s fault is that that the stadium is falling apart? It’s not the citizens of Chicago or the state of IL. If Ricketts didn’t do his due diligence as part of buying the Cubs to know exactly the shape of the park, the need for renovations, the need of funding, etc. shame on Ricketts.

  • bricky9

    I can see most of you commentors are from Chicago. Your political affiliations are obvious. Joe Ricketts isn’t Oney Guillen. He has a right to his political ideologies. Why should anyone have to kiss Rahm’s ass to get funding for Wrigley? I guess if you’re not a democrat,in Chi-town you have no right to an opinion. I have said and will continue to say bull doze that dump,and build a new stadium in the suburbs. In my experience if you’re not a resident of Cook county you don’t mind the idea of the Cubs moving out of Wrigley. It’s sad so many of you believe that the only appeal the Cubs have is wrigley field. If you believe that’s true,then you are not a true Cub fan.Politics be damned. Give the Ricketts the funding they need,regardless of their political affiliation,or kiss the Cubs goodbye. I personally would love to see the Cubs leave Wrigley for the suburbs under Rahms watch. I can guarantee there was no such hoopla when the Cubs moved out of West side park in 1915

    • Cubs Dude

      I am not from Illinois and could care less about the taxes there. And the whole 1915 arguement is just stupid, WAY different time. Joe Ricketts = stupid. But I am a Cubs fan and anything that hurts the Cubs to make the team and franchise less valuable (i.e. hurt chances for a renovated stadium) pisses me off. I don’t think it’s cool that free agents think the facilities suck… At the same time there is something about Wrigley and that area that I would not want to lose. So quit generalizing everyone dbag…

      • Drew7

        Easy there…no need for name-calling!

      • bricky9

        You are just like the scum who seeks to silence free speech. I’ve been a Cub fan for nearly fifty years and you know nothing of the Cubs,or Chicago politics. So STFU loser,and leave Illinois’ problems to Illinoisians. I live in the Chicago suburbs,and where the Cubs play directly affects me. Not some out of town loser like you. People like you are find it really easy to insult when you sit in the comfort of your home,hiding in anonymity. If you can’t make civil rhetorical comments keep your mouth shut.

        • Cubs Dude

          You STFU… You were the one saying that Chicago people are the one’s commenting on this. So I spoke up…. Now you are changing your cry baby rant?? Ok, cool. More of a dbag than originally suspected.. Good for u.

          • Bric

            Hey! How do you know he’s a member of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union? As a member myself, I’d need him to give the secret handshake before memtioning the STFU.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You could make your point without the STFU and the name-calling.

            • Cubs Dude

              Yes, I apologize to bricky. I really wasn’t trying to get in the middle of Illinois politics as I live elsewhere, and it’s not my business. But am more upset with Joe Ricketts and ONLY care about the Cubs well being.

              Edit- Joe Rickets

              • Bric

                Dude, most of us live elsewhere. But after living in Chicago for 20 years I can assure it’s politics are messed up. So is Florida’s. So is Ohio’s (sorry Brett). So is Montana’s. So’s is friggin’ Iceland’s.

                Politics is like steroids- everybody else is guilty except your team. Newsflash: They’re all guilty of whatever they can get away with, and so are we. Scratch that- I never Jay walked, took any illegal substances, had impure thoughts, returned a book late, etc.

        • Edwin

          You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
          We use words like honor, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

          • BeyondFukudome

            I’m gonna rip the eyes out of your head and piss into your dead skull!

        • Bric

          You need to tone it down.
          “If there’s one think I can’t stand its to see Americans fighting Americans! We got the lousy (edited) to fight! You think the (edited) believe in Disney? Yeah? Well was that Mickey Mouse I saw blitzkrieging across France? Pluto in Poland? Or Donald Duck at Pearl Harbor?!” ~ Classic movie. Anyone? Brett, TWC, Doc, Roughriider, Rclev, Goat, or anyone else who understands this website’s about baseball, movies, and videogames and NOT politics?

          • MichiganGoat

            Yup this is a BASEBALL BLOG, I could care less about the politics of any where and I live in the most bankrupt state in the US. So how bout them Cubbies, can we end this slide please.

          • TWC

            1941, maybe?

            Anyway, I *love* politics. I am very active politically. But not here. This place is baseball. Chicago Cubs baseball.  Other places are politics.

            “…anyone else who understands this website’s about baseball, movies, and videogames and NOT politics?”

            And beer.  Don’t forget beer.

          • hansman1982

            I get no love? I haz sad.

  • coal

    I think Cubs fans ought to cut Tom Ricketts a little slack. He, and his people, are trying to work to generate more revenue for the team – both in terms of making the pie bigger (jumbotron, advertisements on roofdecks, etc.) and in terms of the share of the pie the Cubs get (putting a Cubs store in the parking lot across the street vs. letting somebody else sell parking and merchanise for my team in the shadow of the park in an easy example).

    The neighborhood absolutely benefits from the presence of the Cubs – care to guess the top 81 sales days at the McDonald’s on Clark?

    It’s not fair for fans to demand a winner yet reject creative suggestions to increase the Cubs revenue streams that could allow them to spend more on the team, facilities, scouting, etc. And just because the City/State have grown accustomed to the revenue from the luxury tax doesn’t mean that money is spent wisely, or in ways that flow back into the neighborhood or Wrigley. And just because the bar owners, rooftop owners, t-shirt vendors and residents who charge Cubs fans to park behind their buildings have had it good for the last 10-15 years doesn’t mean that they are entitled to those terms forever. Things change – and in this case the economics of professional sports have changed, and so has ownership. Rahm is in doing some tough work with various constituents to fix some of the City’s problems. You can look at Tom, Theo and company as trying to do the same with the Cubs (they inheritied poor infrastructure, poor talent and poor economic contracts with the neighborhood and city). Would you do anything differently if it was your mess to clean up?

  • bricky9

    The Cubs didn’t become perrenial losers until they moved into Wrigley field. Those Wrigleyville whiners don’t appreciate having them there. I saw a tv spot about a woman who has been fighting the Cubs expansion for years(lights,parking,night games). She is one of many. Move to a more fan friendly location. They are called the friendly confines,but I don’t see anything “friendly” about them. They certainly haven’t been too friendly to the Cubs winning it all. One could easily make a case for Wrigley being the reason for the Cubs lack of success. The field at Wrigley is beautiful,but the rest of the stadium is a hole.

    • Matt

      bricky brings up a seldom mentioned fact – the Cubs have NEVER won the championship in Wrigley. From 1876 to moving into Wrigley it can be argued the Cubs were the preeminent NL team. Since Wrigley, not so much.
      I would argue Wrigley makes it very difficult to construct a team to take advantage of your home park, as it plays so differently from day to day.
      I have been going to Wrigley since I was a kid in the early ’70′s, and was a season ticket holder in the 2000′s and even though I have a lot of good memories, it is unequivocally a dump. Having attended games in Milwaukee and Detroit, it makes me want to cry when I compare those to Wrigley. The best thing that could happen to the Cubs is take a wrecking ball to Wrigley and build a nice stadium on the west side or the suburbs. You could even recreate the dimensions and look of the park, but with all the modern amenities. This would also have the added benefit of losing the d-bag fans who attend games as an alternative to going to a bar. I would become depressed sitting in my seats listening to the conversations around me focusing either on what they were going to do later that day or night, or discussions by tourists about various aspects of Chicago. Conversations about the game in front of them were surprisingly rare. The real fans would still attend the games if they moved out of Wrigleyville. The sad thing is that will never happen, as our current owners are Wrigley Field fans, not Cub fans.

      • bricky9

        God bless you Matt. Once again,you are the voice of reason.

  • Drew7

    “One could easily make a case for Wrigley being the reason for the Cubs lack of success”

    Care to elaborate? I mean, if its an easy case to be made, I’d like to hear it if you don’t mind.

    • bricky9

      My last comment. That’s easy. In the past no lights.Currently,too many day games,no batting facilities,bull pens on the field,small,cramped locker rooms. Some say it’s fan friendly,but ask anyone who has,or does play there,the facilities suck. No player would tell you it’s a player friendly facility.

  • bricky9

    It’s dirtbags Like CUBS DUDE that have kept me off this sight for 6 weeks. My opinion is just as valid as anyone’s. Cubsdude doesn’t even live in Illinois,probably has only visited Wrigley once,if that,and hasn’t paid his dues that us aged Cub fans have. Drop the illusions. You have hewn yourselves out broken cisterns that can hold no water. SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME,WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT WRIGLEY FIELD?!?!?! It’s all an illusion. See you in six weeks.

    • Cubs Dude

      Just saying ur original arguement was saying that most commenting were from Chicago, and I had commented and not from Illinois. God forbid a Cubs fan be from another state… Horror….. 6 weeks, can’t wait.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You could make that point without calling him a dirtbag.

  • Sweetjamesjones

    All these people getting upset on a internet message board. Ha!

    Who brought the popcorn?

  • rocky8263

    I guess I’ve always known Cub fans are a bit off but some of the comments are really hateful. Is this who you guys really are? Over a dump ballpark that I really like. I put my money wear my mouth is and this year I’ll probably lose about 6K in tickets I can’t give away. But thats OK. I believe we’re on the right track and when those magical times come I will be able to attend without having to overpay. Smile everybody. It’s a beautiful spring day.

  • Cubbies oh cubbies

    Too many Cubs fans throwing their little pink panty tirades on here for my taste. I think it’s time for me to move on

    • BeyondFukudome

      Bye. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out – it might hurt your head.

  • cubs1967

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-biz-0523-phil-20120523,0,6637453.column

    great article in today’s tribune that sheds some light on what has went on regarding the cubs getting public monies to improve the stadium. helps explain why mayor rahm is so mad about the events this past week regarding joe ricketts. also shows joe ricketts is the real owner; tommyboy and siblings are just the “faces” of the team under the guise of a family trust.

    here’s hoping it does get done. the future of the cubs in wrigley depends on it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      A point of clarification: that’s a column by Phil Rosenthal, not necessarily a fact-based or investigative type piece. He’s offering his opinion.

      • cubs1967

        his opinion is included for the basis of some points of the article. however, joe ricketts did provide the funds to buy the ballclub; that is a fact; which is why mayor rahm became furious with the family and tom. I only provided it as several posts claimed father joe was not the “owner”. the family trust points are speculative; as specifics can only be generalized.

        unfortunately mayor rahm was pushing for this to get done according to a sun-times article today by the end of the spring aldermanic session; which is important in that if this gets delayed till the fall session; the cubs cannot begin construction this winter and assuming the 4 yr timeframe is accurate; it would not be complete till the early spring of 2017; missing the 100 yr anniversay in 2016 and would be 1 yr after theo’s 5 yr term ends, unless extended, meaning he would not have full access to the new revenue stream.

  • The Dude Abides

    Yah, a new stadium with new advertising opportunities, parking lot revenue, increased concession and ticket prices, everything Rickett$ needs. Hope he gets it all and in turn please continue to dump salary and put a mid-level minor league team on the field. Since the little guys in the neighborhood are about to lose parking dollars we can squeeze increased tax dollars out of the neighborhood pubs and do we really need those annoying street vendors when you can get everything you need from team owned stores? This is beautiful Rickett$ you’re the best…

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