Chicago Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts is quietly scrambling to rebuild support for a funding plan for a renovation of Wrigley Field, which would require some $150 million to come from public funds, according to the Sun-Times. Recall, the Illinois General Assembly’s Spring Session ends May 31, which leaves very little time for Ricketts to get things approved, so the ball can be rolling the day the season ends. If the Cubs miss this window, the renovation could be delayed by an entire year. Without Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s active support, getting that ball rolling could be a serious problem.
Sounds pretty scary, no?
Well, if it is, Ricketts is playing it cool.
“I’m not too worried about that right now,” Ricketts said Wednesday on “Roe & Roeper” on WLS-AM 890 of the possibility that his work with the Mayor could be scuttled by his father’s political flap. “The key for us is to make sure that people that know us and know the Ricketts family know that we weren’t trying to do anything that was insensitive in any way and that the people that don’t know us don’t jump to any conclusions.
“The mayor has got a lot on his plate. Whenever we get around to talking about that, that’s fine with me. I’m cool with whatever timing works. It’s just a matter of we’ve just got to kind of get through this and get it behind us.”
It’s impossible to tell if this is a situation where Ricketts is playing it cool because he knows things we don’t (and he isn’t worried), or if he’s trying to offer the appearance of playing it cool, so folks don’t freak out. The Sun-Times article suggests the Mayor and Ricketts still haven’t spoken, and that Ricketts doesn’t plan to reach out to the Mayor again.
For his part, Ricketts tried one more time on Roe & Roeper to distance himself and the Cubs from the (rejected) proposed attack ad on President Obama.
“The team is owned by myself and my siblings, and the Super PAC is kind of managed and funded by my dad,” Ricketts said. “First of all, my dad is a great guy. I love him a ton. In this case, kind of what happened was they took some presentations from a handful of consultants for a campaign that he was going to consider doing in the fall. One of them was very, very controversial and maybe that particular consultant thought that was what the PAC was looking for. It was never one of the options for them, but that presentation got leaked and that’s when all the speculation started flying.”
The problem for the Cubs and for Ricketts, however, is, at that point, even if Mayor Emanuel believes everything Ricketts says, Emanuel has to weigh his own political fallout in supporting the Wrigley funding plan in the midst of this heat. It’s unfortunate, it’s lame, it’s politics, but it’s real. The Cubs may have been screwed by circumstances entirely out of their control, and Mayor Emanuel’s hands may now be tied.
Let’s hope that’s not the case.