It’s been a very quiet month and a half in the Wrigley Field renovation talks. More accurately, there have been no “talks.” The Chicago Cubs, still hopeful of receiving assistance from the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois (and, by necessity, Cook County), reportedly haven’t been able to engage Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in serious discussions ever since the flap about Joe Ricketts – the father of Ricketts kids whom we consider to be the owners of the Cubs – funding an attack ad on Emanuel’s former boss and political ally, President Obama. That flap was in mid-May, and it came on the heels of some real momentum, where Emanuel said a deal was close.
Now, we hear nothing. I’ve speculated that both sides have decided that the political climate was just too sticky to keep pushing for a deal right now, and they’ll return to the table after things have quieted down.
After a month and a half, shouldn’t we be there by now? Maybe so, and maybe the Cubs are going to get some help in their quest to secure funding assistance from the city and state.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has an obvious interest in seeing Wrigley Field upgraded, and he wants to help the Cubs get a funding deal done. But he’s not just using his influence and his words. He may also have a pretty nice offer in mind for Chicago if they help get a deal done soon. From the Tribune:
While Selig declined to comment on the Cubs situation, it was revealed during conversations after last week’s All-Star Game in Kansas City that Major League Baseball is promising to bring the All-Star Game to Wrigley Field as soon as possible after the ballpark is improved.
MLB’s hope is that city officials will see that the economic impact of that event would partially offset the cost of helping the Ricketts family modernize Wrigley, which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2014 ….
While local officials estimate that this year event in Kansas City carried an economic impact of about $60 million, the 2013 game at Citi Field in New York is estimated to generate $191.5 million for hotels, restaurants and other New York businesses, according to New York City Economic Development officials ….
Citi Field, the Mets’ new home, gets the 2013 game. Washington, Miami and Cincinnati (which last had an All-Star Game in 1988) are lined up for ’15, ’17 and ’19, respectively, but Selig is prepared to let the Cubs cut in line if taxpayers will pony up to help the team.
It’s possible the game could go to Wrigley in an even-numbered year, like 2016. Selig made an exception to the rotation for the event to go to New York in Yankee Stadium’s final season, rather than the year before. He said last week that he doesn’t want to make another such exception, given home-field advantage being tied to the All-Star Game, but didn’t rule it out.
In other words, Selig could theoretically offer the city of Chicago as much as $150 million to $190 million in positive economic impact (I know, I know, the subject is debatable) in, say, 2016, rather than 2021. That sounds like a pretty sweet offer to me.
Is it enough to get the city back to the table? Is it enough to put them over the top? Maybe. The Cubs are reportedly seeking just $150 million of the total $500 million costs expected to be associated with renovating Wrigley ($300 million) and constructing the Triangle Building ($200 million – which, remember, isn’t just a benefit to the Cubs, it’s got amenities for the community, as well). And that $150 million isn’t just cash money coming straight from the city – the Cubs are also open to accepting assistance in the form of relaxed restrictions on their ability to advertise at and around Wrigley, and to host events at and around Wrigley.