Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Bud Selig Trying to Help the Cubs Get Funding

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.

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

127 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Bud Selig Trying to Help the Cubs Get Funding”

  1. #1lahairfan

    Forte signed.

    1. Featherstone

      Source? I really want to read this.

      1. #1lahairfan

        1. #1lahairfan

          Articles on Chicago tribune and si.com. I can’t link on this phone.

      2. #1lahairfan
    2. Whiteflag

      I think that is a fake report. If you are referring to the 7yr/120mil extension.

      1. North Side Irish

        haven’t seen an article yet, but I’ve seen multiple reports on Twitter…

        Adam Schefter ‏@AdamSchefter
        Bears and Matt Forte agreed to a four-year deal. The deal will average about $8 million per year.

  2. Whiteflag
  3. Ted

    I understand why cities put up funds to attract teams, and (kind of) help build new stadiums for already-present teams. But it is completely beyond me why Chicago would help the Cubs renovate Wrigley.

    1. Sandberg

      Maybe so the Cubs don’t move to a suburb that won’t completely screw them over in every way possible when it comes to their stadium.

    2. Cubbie Blues

      The monies being discussed reportedly are coming from the growth in amusement taxes on Chicago Cubs tickets. In essence the money is only there because the Cubs (ticket buyers) payed it in the first place.

      1. Ted

        Ostensibly this would be irrelevant, no? If the money’s coming in either way (and it is), the city would tax it, and ideally that tax revenue would go towards schools and parks and etc. as opposed to baseball teams owned by billionaires which charge $50/ticket.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          The Cubs (I believe) are the only team in the nation that both owns the stadium and pays the taxes. Most cities understand that the clubs bring in revenue for the public coffers. Then you have to remember the limits the city has put on them. The historic landmark Wrigley “enjoys” puts the Cubs behind the eight ball on advertising (and renovation). On top of that the cross street piracy got into the alderman’s ear and they can’t place any advertising that obstructs the roof top views.

          1. Ted

            Great point re: landmark status and other city-imposed limitations — thanks.

        2. Scotti

          No, this is not irrelevant. The monies from the amusement tax would only increase IF Wrigley were to be enhanced. If Wrigley doesn’t get improved there is no increased revenue from the amusement tax. So the City wants to sit on its hands while the Cubs to pay $500 million to refurbish/improve Wrigley and then rake in hundreds of millions over time in EXTRA taxes directly from Cub fans.

          Your word choice of “ideally” is what is irrelevant here. Increases in tax revenues are NOT going to pay for schools and parks. They are going to pay for bloated legacy costs, fraud and waste, period.

          And, FWIW, the amusement tax in Chicago was supposed to offset the costs of said amusement to the City (costs for renting gov’t owned facilities, police, trash, etc.). However, the Cubs own their park, pay millions for security and clean up around the park. The Cubs’ fans pay double (minimum) what the Sox, Bears, Bulls, etc. pay in amusement tax because they outdraw and/or have much higher ticket prices than all of the above. Again, all of that while “cleaning up after themselves” (something no other Chicago team does).

          The Cubs have proposed to continue to pay well over what the Bears, Sox, Bulls pay–just not more than what Wrigley can generate at current maximum capacity and the 2009 highest ticket price in MLB. The City has no “right” to those extra funds if they do nothing to generate them. The Cubs are the number three tourist draw in the state (after Millennium Park and Navy Pier) and, as such, brings tens of millions in revenue over what they already pay themselves (food, lodging, souvenirs and the jobs that go along with them). The City invests heavily in both Millennium Park and Navy Pier, and thus, has a “right” to generate taxes from the amusement taxes to the businesses there. The City currently does not invest in Wrigley/the Cubs. The City has no skin in the game and they have no right to even the current amusement taxes they take now.

          1. Ted

            Whether or not a city has the right to collect taxes on things is a rather philosophical argument that is largely outside the issue here. And my sunshine-and-rainbows comment re: parks and schools was a bit tongue-in-cheek (especially when we’re dealing with Chicago) but I think you’d be hard-pressed to argue that taxpayer dollars going towards a highly profitable business is agl even if those dollars will evaporate somewhere in the Chicagoland bureaucracy instead (which bureaucracy’s efficacy is once again largely outside the issue here).
            I am interested re: amusement tax though; I honestly don’t know much about what’s being proposed so if you could fill me in on how amusement tax revenues would only increase only if Wrigley were renovated I’d be glad to hear it.

            1. hansman1982

              You would get a 3-ish year bump in actual attendance due to the renovations. Right now, I have no plans to attend Wrigley until 2015-2016 but if Wrigley were to get renovated and the Triangle building built this winter, I would probably go next year as well to see all of that.

              Add in the increased number of people coming to Wrigley year-round for non-baseball events, tours, see the Cubs HoF, etc… and the effect would be a larger flow of money into the Wrigleyville area.

              1. Ted

                An interesting proposition. But if history is any predictor, fielding a winning team pretty much guarantees sellouts; how much more can we hope to achieve?

                1. Andrew

                  The Cubs HOF is something that would bring me, as an out-of-town fan, to Chicago an extra day whenever I travel to Chicago. I visit other sites in Chicago (the Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute, etc) because I’m already in town for Cubs games. I do not travel to Chicago unless the Cubs are at Wrigley, then I choose everything else I’m going to do.

                  This is part of how the Cubs drive revenue to Chicago, and how these renovations will help drive extra revenue. My visit (at least once) will be extended to visit the Cubs HOF that would be added. Multiply that by however many fans would do the same (staying extra nights in hotels, paying additional sales taxes on food and other items) and you start to understand how the renovations will drive more revenue.

                  Now, ALSO having a winning team may drive me to Chicago more often… but I think we all want that. Part of fielding that winning team is finding ways to drive revenue for the team so that said revenue can theoretically be redirected to the payroll.

            2. Scotti

              “I am interested re: amusement tax though; I honestly don’t know much about what’s being proposed so if you could fill me in on how amusement tax revenues would only increase only if Wrigley were renovated I’d be glad to hear it.”

              There are two ways that the amusement tax (AT–I’m tired of spelling it out) increases since it is a fixed percentage of what each Cub fan pays per ticket: 1) More seating. This will happen with a renovation but only a few thousand seats, max. That doesn’t get you a much higher AT (again, a percentage tax on each ticket sold). 2) Raise ticket prices. This also happens two ways A) general seating prices go up (however, they are at, or near, the most expensive seat in MLB already) B) Luxury seating (of which Wrigley is woefully limited compared to other parks).

              Option #2 increases AT greatly. But, since the team is realistically maxed out in both attendance % and ticket prices, the team cannot increase AT without being renovated to add more seats, add more luxury seats, create a reason to continue to draw fans who, generally speaking, don’t really like in pissing in a trough more than necessary (especially if you’ve been pissed on at said trough). This and this are for the ladies…

              To be clear, while a refurbished Wrigley will draw fans in, and of, itself for a few seasons, the Cubs will need to invest in the on-field product (put forth a consistent winning team) to make raising ticket prices a vehicle that substantially raises the AT. The team investments in the front office, Dominican facilities, draft, Mesa, etc. are all means to that end. Thus, raising ticket prices would serve the dual purpose of paying for the renovation (in part through the AT and through the Cubs paying for their side) and bettering the team on the field.

              But why should we trust the Cubs to use that money to better the team? I mean, look at what the Padres did… The answer lies in the incredible undervaluation of the team. The Yankees are worth well north of $2 billion, easy. The Dodgers, and properties, just sold for $2 billion despite their brand being run into the ground by their previous owner. The Ricketts, however, paid only $850 million for 95% of the Cubs. Why the difference? Losing and properties. If this team had genuine revenue sources (and Wrigley lacks those amenities), AND was a winning team (in order to max out revenues), then the Cubs owners would be sitting on a $2 billion dollar plus investment (read well over $1 billion in gains). That is one hell of an incentive for this team to win.

              Without improvements ticket prices cannot be raised substantially and, thus, without improvements the AT paid by Cub fans will not increase.

          2. ncsujuri

            Scotti, really good breakdown! Thanks!

            1. Scotti

              No problem. It was either that or breakdown what ncsujuri means… ;-)

    3. JoeyCollins

      Because if they dont renovate soon they will have to build a new stadium. The cubs bring in millions of dollars a year in tourist revenue to the city. The city also makes crazy money taxing cubs tickets. Chicago values Wrigley field as a landmark and thus wont allow the team to take advantage of revenue streams that other teams can. if they want wrigley to stay the way it is, and continue to attract tourists they need to help paying for necessary renovations.

    4. cubmig


  4. someday...2015?

    I know im off topic here but I need to take a second and say something… FINALLY! THE BEARS PAID THAT MAN! Congratulations Forte on a well deserved contract extension.

    1. Toby

      finally, I won’t have to read, “pay the man” anymore.

      1. leroy k.

        Thank you for “paying the man!!!”

  5. Jonathan

    I am really hoping that Wrigley gets the All Star Game in 2029. Something about having the 100th ASG at Wrigley just seems right.

  6. MightyBear

    People against these deals do not understand how the economics works. The Cubs have been a HUGE benefit to the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois forever with no assistance from either. The Cubs generate more tax revenue for the public good than most enterprises in the City. In addition to the revenue Brett mentioned for the All Star game, the revenue generated by increased property values, sales tax revenue and HOT revenue would be way more to the City and the State than it will cost in the initial outlay.

    1. Pat

      People are going to spend their disposable income somewhere. If its not the Cubs, they would spend it at a restaurant or a show or somewhere else. The Cubs have been a huge benefit to their owners over the years, not the city or state.

      1. hansman1982

        but there is a large segment of people who visit Wrigley who would never (or make far fewer trips) come to Chicago, never visit the Wrigleyville area or would spend less on a trip to Chicago if the Cubs were not there. Also, I am fairly certain the Cubs organization pays income tax within Chicago and Illinois, property taxes are paid to Cook County.

        It’s not like you would still have that same piece of pie to give to Grandma instead of Junior – that piece would either not exist or be a fraction of the size it is now.

        1. Pat

          How large? Let’s put some realistic numbers on it.

          1. hansman1982

            Well, over the span of 5 years I went to Chicago 3 times. Assuming that at some point in my life I would have went to Chicago for recreation at least once that means there are 2 times in 3 years that Chicago got my leisure money just because of the Cubs. I also averaged $600 a trip on those two (just for myself).

            Now let’s say that 25% of the Cubs attendees are out of towners and 25% of those folks are like me – only come to Chicago once regardless of the Cubs, and then would attend a game every other year, that equals $37,400,000 every year just because the Cubs are there (assuming there are 187,000 other Cubs fans similar to me).

            Factor in that the City will not be actually paying money out of its pockets to fund this, they will receive the economic benefit of the actual construction/increased property tax valuation/increase in tourism immediately following the renovation and I have a hard time seeing how the City/state will be out $150M by helping fund this.

            1. Pat

              25 percent would assume that two thirds of the non season tickets are out of town people. If that’s right you may have a point.

              Of that thirty seven million figure, only ten percent or so is taxes.

              1. Scotti

                He’s wrong but only because it is 33%.

                1. hansman1982

                  I tried to skew my numbers of people like me as small as possible – if there are 1.1M fans who go to Cubs games from outside the metro area that is somewhere between $200M and $500M that flows into the city each year, in part, because the Cubs are there.

      2. JoeyCollins

        Really? So charging a 12% tax on 3mil tickets at an avererage of $52+ a ticket nets the city and state no money? My conservative math puts it at 15mil in ticket tax alone.

        1. Pat

          Yes but everything else you buy is also taxed, so if that money is spent elsewhere it is still taxed. It doesn’t just disappear.

          1. MightyBear

            What if they travel to St Louis to see the Cardinal or Milwaukee to see the Brewers, how much of that does the City/State get?

            1. Pat

              And what percentage of the people who currently go to Cubs games do you expect to do that?

            2. andrew

              Well. Theyd have to get there and back somehow which means theyd have to buy gas or train or plane tickets which is taxed. Also this argument is pretty much a nonstarter because milwaukee and st. Louis would not be able to accomodate the 40,000 plus fans that would want to go there theoreticaly especially since theyd have to go during a time they could travel which is most likely the summer or the weekends where those parks would be even more sold out. Also youre argument is especially dumb considering the more likely replacement is to go to whitesox games which are cheaper and closer and not nearly as likely to be sold out.

              Then of course there is the reality that most of those people would just do something else besides watch baseball. Only diehard fans would be willling to travel over 2.5 hours each way then do a 3 hour ballgame then come back 2.5 hours and that is a very small segment of the people that go to wrigley regularly. People that aren’t diehards would recognize that they could get a lot more value for the money they spend if they just do something else in chicago like go to a museum or see a show or something.

              1. hansman1982

                My guess is that most people who attend multiple games every year are not highly likely to attend multiple shows and museum trips each year. Attendance at those things would increase but not in like amounts, you wouldn’t have people like me coming to Chicago more often and you would have some of those fans attend games out of state or even just out of the City.

                1. andrew

                  between museums, movies, plays, restaurant visits, comedy clubs, concerts, etc. there would very likely be a like increase, after all the money has to go somewhere. And for the most part these activities give a larger percentage of what you pay to middle class workers rather than multimillionaires.

                  1. Cubbie Blues

                    They all would not have to go somewhere (at least not into Chicago). If it were not for the Cubs I would not travel there 1-2 times a year and drop $1,000 each time.

                    1. scorecardpaul

                      I travel to Chicago 2 to 3 times a year. Believe me when I tell you this, if it were not for the Cubs you would never see me there again. I live closer to St. Louis, but I drive to Chicago. I am not a fan of Chicago. I am a fan of the Cubs!!!!!!! I am glad to leave your town after a few days. I feel like all I have done is see a great team, and waste a ton of money. Stuff doesn’t cost as much in other places in the state. Chicago gets a lot of my money every year, and it is ONLY FOR THE CUBS.

          2. hansman1982

            the money that I (and fans like me) would spend in Chicago would disappear. Citizens of chicago and illinois would have more money to spend on out of state vacations. A portion would become fans of out of state teams.

            While none of these are big ticket items, its a case of a death by a thousand paper cuts.

            1. andrew

              These are all extremely small expenses. Whats more likely to happen is that the cubs would lose at least 75% of their fanbase out of spite for leaving a city simply because the city wouldnt pay them to fix their stadium. A lot of fans would just switch allegiance to the white sox before some other out of state team because of convenience.

              Not many people think hmm.. would i rather go on an out of state vacation which would cost at least 1000$ or would i go to a few cubs games for about 50-100 bucks a game. I would be amazed if 20% of people in the city that are cubs fans allocated over 300$ to going to cubs games every year.

              1. Scotti

                “A lot of fans would just switch allegiance to the white sox…”

                Uh, no.

                1. andrew

                  you underestimate the power of the dark side

              2. Cubbie Blues

                I for one take my family there every year and it costs about $1000 to do so. I have to drive 4-1/2 hours one way. I even brought 2 extra people (not counted into that $1k) to the game this year. Last year I went to 2 games. There are a lot more people like me than you think. Not every Cubs fan lives in Chicago.

                1. hansman1982

                  and seeing that the City of Chicago has 2.7M citizens and the Cubs routinely sell more than 3M tickets I would venture to guess that more than a handful of people are from (at least) outside of Chicago.

                  1. Scotti

                    The Cubs polled their fans before they started this. 33% of attendees are from outside the area. They need lodging, food, and generally, stop and see other amusements while they are here.

                    1. Cubbie Blues

                      So, if you take my position as typical. When I go there are 5 of us (my wife, 2 boys and a baby (no ticket yet) and myself) 4 tickets. 3,000,000 attendance x .33 = 990,000 tickets x 250 per ticket (for everything) = $247,500,000 per year. That is A LOT of out-of-town money! Just to put it out there, the Cubs is the only reason I travel to Chicago.

                    2. Pat

                      They did a random shaming on a couple of days. Hardly scientific and I imagine there’s a pretty wide error margin on the results. For it to be thirty three percent would mean that all individual ticket sales were tourists. Does that sound remotely plausible to you?

                      Or it means the tourists are buying from the season ticket holders, so you can remove the cost of tickets from your estimates.

                    3. Cubbie Blues

                      Even if you take that number down to 15% it still comes out to $112,500,000. Is that still a large enough number? Take out the ticket price (which includes taxes) it would be $200 per ticket holder or $90,000,000. That is less than 3 years to get to your break even point. That makes it a good investment to keep the Cubs in Chicago. Now, I know they aren’t going anywhere soon, but you push too much and …

                    4. andrew

                      What is outside the area? outside the state? outside the city? outside the neighborhood? my guess is that a pretty small percentage of fans come in from out of state for every game. I’d say close to 10 percent

                    5. hansman1982

                      I am guessing the polling done would have been done to ensure it was a valid sample size which really doesn’t take much especially when you have 30,000+ potential participants 81 games a year.

                      If you can sample 1000-2000 people over 3-4 games that isn’t much different than a presidential poll. Even if it is a highly un-scientific poll with an error margin of 5% that still gives us from 28-38% of attendees are from outside the area. For a team like the Cubs with such a national fanbase, I don’t think that is that outrageous.

                    6. Patrick W.

                      Which is it, Andrew? 80% of Cubs fans in the city allocate less than $300 per year for Cubs games, or 90% of Ticket Purchasers are from the city? The math doesn’t work.

                  2. Scotti

                    Outside the area as defined as needing somewhere to spend the night (so not the burbs). I have no problem with their 33% figure. TONS of season tickets (and many regular tickets) are re-sold on StubHub, etc. and, regardless of where they buy those tickets, when a person comes from out of town they spend money in the City. And, as opposed to the other two top draws (Navy Pier and Millennium Park), people come for the express purpose of attending a game at Wrigley and then see the other sites. When folks go to Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Sears (yes, Sears) Tower they are generally in or near town for other purposes.

                    Again, the Cubs are the NUMBER TWO draw in MLB on the ROAD with a record of 36-52. Win, lose or draw folks want to see them some Cubs…

          3. Scotti

            “Yes but everything else you buy is also taxed, so if that money is spent elsewhere it is still taxed. It doesn’t just disappear.”

            The entertainment tax is above and beyond other taxes! The Cubs get taxed and then the entertainment tax is levied again.

      3. Scotti

        “People are going to spend their disposable income somewhere. If its not the Cubs, they would spend it at a restaurant or a show or somewhere else. ”

        The Cubs draw one third of their fans from out of the area. Most of those fans would not spend their lodging, food, entertainment, etc. money in Chicago if it were not for the Cubs. Cub fans plan their vactaions to Chicago from throughout the country to see the Cubs (note how the Cubs are perennially one of the top road draws regardless of their record).

    2. andrew

      The city is a huge benefit to the Cubs also. if it werent for where it’s located in the city and the fact that its in the 3rd biggest city in the US, Wrigley would never sell out as much as it does. Add in the public transportation system that makes it a lot easier to get to cubs games than sox games, the increased police and traffic control required for every game, and the free street parking available further away from the park and they get plenty of help from the city. The Cubs aren’t going to leave Wrigleyville because they know theyd lose a ton of money so I see absolutely no reason the Cubs should try to get them to stay. Yes, they get a lot of money from taxes, but those taxes keep the city clean and safe which is a help to the cubs. The Ricketts knew this would be an expense when they bought the team (its not like Wrigley all of a sudden started getting worse) and it is likely a reason the purchase of the cubs was somewhat cheaper than it could have been.

      1. Cubbie Blues

        “if it werent for where it’s located in the city” which came first Wrigleyville or Wrigley Stadium? There is a reason the transportation is better as well. It sells more tickets and provides more revenue for the City.

        1. andrew

          The reasons the transportation is better is because the northside is more densely populated meaning that there is disproportionately more focus on making northside improvements than southside ones. Perhaps the community was built around wrigley originally but go there any day or night that a game isnt playing and it is a central hub of nightlife in chicago so clearly the cubs wouldnt affect it that much

          1. JoeyCollins

            That area is a center for nightlife because there are a lot of bars. The bars are all there becuase the large amounts of money they can make off of cubs fans. The stadium brought in people, businesses sprouted because thats where the people were.

            1. andrew

              It may be true that th stadium brought them there, but if the stadium left it would still be a center of nightlife

              1. Chicago Cottager

                Not true. Having been in the industry and still retaining strong connections to it, I can tell you that Wrigleyville as a nightlife draw would evaporate within 2-3 years without the Cubs. The bars barely break even in the off-season and when the Cubs are playing away. They rely heavily on game-day revenue to subsidize expenses for the rest of the year. (Hence why so much turnover of ownership happens, especially in the off-season: failure to plan ahead). Also, don’t forget that every dollar spent gets respent (and retaxed) by the recipient.

      2. hansman1982

        there is the question – you make it seem as if that area and Chicago as a whole would be in the same exact situation without the Cubs.

        Certainly the Cubs would not be the same without Chicago and Chicago (to a much greater extent the Wrigleyville area) would not be the same without the Cubs.

        I guess from what I understand, the city would receive no fewer funds than now and they would not actually spend any money. The Cubs would simply receive any amount collected from the amusement tax over where it is now in the future.

        1. Pat

          Think that through. In order to pay back the loan, the Cubs need to raise ticket prices. It is the only real way to increase the tax collected over the amount promised to the city, as they still sell to near capacity.

          Let’s say they are going to pay it back over thirty years. That would be five million per year in increased amusement tax intake. At three million tickets sold, that’s a dollar sixty seven per ticket sold. However the amusement tax is only 12 percent of the ticket price. That means the actual ticket price needs to go up by twenty dollars to achieve that result.

          So for every five million that goes back to the city, an additional sixty million goes to the Ricketts family.

          That’s the deal you want to sign up for?

          1. Pat

            Sorry, at 12 percent it is eight times approx. so ticket increase would be about 13.50 and the Rickets would keep 40 million for every five that goes to the city.

          2. hansman1982

            From what I have read, the City is not giving the Cubs money nor will the Cubs be paying anything back to the city.

            Over the course of the next 24 years ticket prices are almost guaranteed to double (just due to normal inflation). This will cause an increase in the amount collected for the Amusement tax. That is where the Cubs will be getting this money from (well, add in that baseball inflation is higher than the average 3%). If the City were to agree to the deal today, they would be in no different position to provide services tomorrow.

            1. Pat

              So what, are the Cubs going to tell the contractors they’ll get paid over the next thirty years? No. Someone has to put up cash up front. That is then paid back over time.

              And before you assume ticket prices will double due to inflation, remember people said the same thing about housing prices at one point in time. There is no guarantee the market will bear that.

              1. JoeyCollins

                The cubs put the money up and pay right away. The cities portion is simply an agreement that they wont collect any more in taxes than they do now. Its not a check, its not increased taxes, its not less money for the city, its just any extra money goes to the team and not the city.

              2. hansman1982

                the bond holders are the ones who are paying now – the amusement tax revenues will help the Cubs pay for the bonds later.

              3. Scotti

                “So what, are the Cubs going to tell the contractors they’ll get paid over the next thirty years? “

                The Cubs will get bonds from the PRIVATE bond market. You know, those capitalists. Those bonds will be secured with, #1 Cub money, #2 money from the ISFA and #3 any amusement tax over the 2009 figure that weighs heavier on Cub fans than Sox fans by about 3 to 1.

                1. Pat

                  They don’t need the city to get private financing. They want state or city backed bonds. While the bonds are bought by private entities, the public is on the hook if those deals go bad. The public also covers the debt servicing costs.

                  1. Scotti

                    The ISFA, and it’s 2% hotel tax, exists to back such bonds. The deal has no realistic (read rational) chance of “going bad.”

                    1. Pat

                      You mean the tax that is collected by the state that is billions of dollars in debt and could very well have to file for bankruptcy? Yeah, what could possible go wrong under that scenario?

          3. Scotti

            “So for every five million that goes back to the city, an additional sixty million goes to the Ricketts family.

            That’s the deal you want to sign up for?”

            First, there would be no loan. There would be private bonds secured with the same hotel tax fund that funded, in whole, the Sox and Bear’s facilities and, if needed, the amusement tax.

            Second, and most importantly, since the Ricketts own the team (and the City does not) I would be very uncomfortable with the City getting anything what-so-ever if the Cubs raise ticket prices. Last I checked, this is still a capitalist society.

        2. andrew

          I’m saying the Cubs would be worse off without Chicago than Chicago is without the Cubs. Chicago has tons of other attractions and 4 other major sports teams in the blackhawks, bulls, sox and bears. A very small portion of chicago revenue can be legitimately considered Cubs-related, whereas I would say 98% of the Cubs revenue is because of Chicago. Why else is it a popular team? all the championship teams it puts on the field?

        3. Chris84

          I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life. In fact, I grew up a bus ride down Belmont Avenue, which allowed me to spend a lot of time in Wrigleyville in the 1980′s and 1990′s, so I’ve watched that neighborhood develop around Wrigley. My mom spent a lot of time at Wrigley as a kid in the 1960′s, so between us, there’s two generations worth of watching that neighborhood change. If it wasn’t for the Cubs, that neighborhood wouldn’t have been what it is now (for better or for worse).
          Most of the gentrification and economic growth in that area was connected to its proximity to Wrigley Field.
          Not really arguing one way or another as far as the taxes and funding go, but just trying to help shed some light on the “chicken/egg” part of the discussion.

          The one thing I will say about the funding is, we Chicagoans and residents of Cook County were bullied into helping pay for a stadium on the south side that most years sits half to three quarters full. I kind of feel like it was a non-issue because Mayor Sox-Fan supported it to improve his precious Bridgeport.

      3. Scotti

        “if it werent for where it’s located in the city and the fact that its in the 3rd biggest city in the US, Wrigley would never sell out as much as it does. “

        What, did the City just suddenly become the 3rd largest? The City had the same transit system and was the same size in the late ’70′s and early ’80′s and the Cubs couldn’t give tickets away. Wrigley sells out because it is a beautiful place to watch a game and, like Fenway, it is a dying breed.

        “Add in the public transportation system that makes it a lot easier to get to cubs games than sox games, the increased police and traffic control required for every game, and the free street parking available further away from the park and they get plenty of help from the city. ”

        The Cubs pay for their own clean up, police and off site parking.

        1. andrew

          What did Wrigley suddenly become a great place to watch a game???? It was the same ballpark and the same team in the 70s and 80s as it is right now so wh.

          Also I’m talking about the parking that can be found for free on the streets a few blocks away from the ballpark which the cubs dont pay for and the city doesnt charge for. Please give me a source that the cubs pay for the traffic control and police for outside of the park as well as the street cleanup for around the park afterwards because I highly highly doubt that is accurate seeing as they are city employees.

          The fact that the north part of the red line and bus system enjoys much less interruptions of service as well as many more bus routes on the north side is a huge benefit to the cubs and is something many teams would be envious of in the majors

          1. Scotti

            The Cubs selling out Wrigley can be traced to the Cubs SELLING (marketing) Wrigley (in large part through WGN which reaches many states). The City didn’t grow during this period–it shrank. The Cubs DID, however, decide to market what is a dying breed–an old fashioned, beautiful place to watch a ball game.

            The Cubs parking is mostly done in local lots for $20 bucks (and you get towed to a pound with a City contract if you don’t pick up your car right after the game–$250 bucks for the pound/city). Of course, one third don’t need parking as they are from out of town. And anyone else in the City shouldn’t need parking either. They bus, train or ride their bikes for free bike valet ( Parking is mostly for those coming from the burbs.

            Additional parking for night and weekend games is made available by the Cubs at DeVry (parking is $6 and the Cubs pay for the shuttles). That concession was made with the neighborhood when they didn’t want more night/weekend games. Same with the additional police and cleanup. And, Yes. Of course you can make arrangements to pay the City for police, maintenance crews, etc. In fact, the City can even give you a bill for the same without an agreement. Each time the Cubs made an agreement with the neighborhood (night games, more night games, concerts, etc.) they agreed to pay more in police or clean up, etc. No other Chicago teams pays for that.

            “Typically 48-49 traffic aides are posted in the streets around Wrigley Field to control vehicular traffic for event dates. The Cubs reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of TMA traffic aides. In 2011, the total payment through September 19 was $383,448.40. ” From:


            1. andrew

              1. Where do you get this figure of 1/3 coming from out of state for every game?

              2. Just because you live in the city doesnt mean you dont drive. I live in the city and drive to the game and park for free on the street and walk a few blocks. Even if your point were accurate, the city keeps the trains and buses moving to Wrigley which is a large portion of where the fans come through. Far more bus routes go by wrigley than the cell.

              Wrigley is a much safer part of the city than the cell as well. Better public schools and other facilities on the northside attracted richer people which made neighborhoods safer, including wrigleyville, which makes wrigley more attractive for families.

              Why are you so concerned about the Ricketts not spending money? When they bought the club, they knew what they were getting into. They knew the park needed reservations, there were high amusement taxes, and that getting those renovations would be expensive. Now they whine to the state and city about how they need these renovations and dont want to pay for them themselves.

    3. hansman1982

      wait, we cant discuss how much the Cubs have benefited the county, city and state only that this money would cause schools to implode on orphans and streets to crumble into dust. Nevermind that there is a giant economic zone around Wrigley that benefits greatly from those 81 home dates – I mean we all know that the only people who come to Cubs games are people who just happen to be in the area anyway, live in Chicago and are siphoning the money they spend at Wrigely away from the mom-n-pop shops.

      While I doubt there would be a net effect of $150M pouring into Chicago and the Wrigleyville area for an AS game, any Wrigley renovation (regardless of AS game ramifications) would not “cost” the taxpayers $150M. Remember, the Cubs will have to pay to fix Wrigley, that means jobs, materials, local merchants feeding/clothing/housing workers, tax revenues on getting the materials to the jobsite, permits, inspections, etc… It’s not as if Tom is asking for $150M from Illinois to spend the money in Iowa.

      The City of Chicago, Cook County, and the state are all wanting something for nothing (continued tax receipts from the Cubs and their economic impact).

      1. Ted

        The flaw in this argument that I see is of course that the city doesn’t “want” anything for “nothing.” They are where the Cubs — a massively profitable company owned as either a luxury or a superb investment by billionaires — play and where the Cubs are unlikely to leave. I see that they help the city, sure; but I don’t see where they have much bargaining power to warrant getting help from the city to do what every company does (renovate their buildings). If anything, they should get LESS help than your Tribunes or your Wrigleys, because those can much more easily leave town than a baseball team like the Cubs.

        1. Ted

          Which is all to say — the economics that MB was so keen to point out are rather obvious. The economics as to why the Cubs — a successful business doing what any other successful business does — deserve help from the city are where the argument is wanting.

          1. hansman1982

            You never disproved my “something for nothing” argument. Right now the Cubs pay for their share of infrastructure needs through income and property taxes. The city is just collecting extra taxes (I don’t see amusement taxes on the Chicago Tribune (which probably reaches as many viewers as the Cubs games)) because the Cubs are successful. The city then restricts what the Cubs can do to where they make their money but doesn’t provide funding to help maintain the landmark status.

            1. Ted

              To argue that a business does not have specific hoops to jump through, not mirrored exactly by other business in the city, is perhaps a bit of a stretch. Even the landmark status straitjacket, a strong response here, is also not Cubs-specific. I guess I just don’t see where the Cubs get leverage in all of this. They’re quite realistically not going to leave Chicago and otherwise they appear to be the ones asking for something — city support — for nothing — they’re providing jobs and attracting tourists like many other businesses which do not get support. I’d see a something-for-something trade if I understood their leverage, but I don’t.

              1. hansman1982

                So just because the Cubs already provide the economic impact they do and it is not likely to go away any time soon the city should raise the middle finger?

                I understand the negotiation portion of that statement and if I were Rahm that is what I would bring up but two things:

                1. That is a shitty message to send to businesses looking to move into the city – “Hey, once you become so established here you cannot leave we are going to screw you every chance we get”
                2. At some point, the Cubs WOULD be highly motivated to leave Wrigley in the dust if being in Chicago did not offset the advertising and facilities costs (increased costs for free agents, increase in competitive disadvantage)

                With ponying up $350M the Ricketts are already a quarter of the way to building a state-of-the-art stadium wherever the hell they choose. The leverage may not be there now, but it will be soon.

                1. Ted

                  I understand the passion for the Cubs (I’m on BN after all!), but I don’t know that I see not helping with renovations as “screwing them every chance they get.” Nor do I think a sensible Cubs owner would leave town and expect to do as well as he does owning the Chicago Cubs (even owning the Chicago Cubs minus full-on renovation or new construction expenses). Agree to disagree, though, and thanks for being so polite in this strong argument.

      2. andrew

        If the Cubs dont want to pay the taxes, they can leave. Wrigleyville does just fine without the cubs on the 284 days of the year the cubs dont play there. If they left, theyd be losing a huge fanbase that sells out almost every one of their games. Yes there is some stimulus from big projects and I think the city could offer a tax incentive on the work done there i.e. pay less income tax on the employees hired through the project, but there is no reason the city needs to. The renovation is going to happen at some point and so will the allstar game with or without city money so the city holds all the cards in negotiations.

        As for the cubs not syphoning money from mom and pop shops, yes they are. Most people that go to cubs games are from the city and that money would be spent elsewhere. Most likely it would be somewhere in which most of the money they pay would go towards middle class workers as opposed to mulimillionaire players. People go to Wrigley because its fun, but there are tons of fun things to do in the city also.

        1. JoeyCollins

          The cubs bring people to the city and state. I grew up almost three hours away and my whole family made numerous trips a year to chicago and the main reason was always a cubs game.

          1. andrew

            Lots of things bring people to the city and state. Shopping, the sears tower, the food, the music scene, the restaurant scene, the list of chicago attractions that are private entities goes on and on. they benefit the private entrepreneurs and the city as a whole but they shouldnt be subsidized by the city

            1. Chicago Cottager

              But they are subsidized. The massive dollars spent on street-scraping renovations on the Mag Mile and the recent renovation of State Street, along with public parks and facilities along the lakefront are all designed to drive business and tourism in those areas so that they will patronize Chicago business and reap tax dollars.

        2. hansman1982

          take a multi-hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars business out of any neighborhood (sans downtown) and the neighborhood will suffer, add in the fact that it is a business that 3,000,000 fans purchase soveniers and food from around that business each year and the impact would be even greater.

          Any idea that Wrigleyville would be the same 10 years after the Cubs is a pipe-dream.

          1. andrew

            its a multi hundreds of million dollar business but most of that money gets concentrated into the hands of:

            1. the players obviously which doesnt do much to improve the community

            2. The ricketts family.

            A very small portion of the cubs goes to creating middleclass jobs. Especially since almost every employee is seasonal so it doesnt pay very much. The cubs are only playing baseball in wrigley 81 days a year. the economic impact isnt that great when you take into account the scale of the economy at large.

            1. Scotti

              Andrew, the Cubs are the #3 tourist attraction in the State (Navy Pier, Millennium Park). For the most part, neither Navy Pier nor Millennium Park actually attract folks too the City but are, rather, just things folks do once they get there (yet the City invests hugely in both). Wrigley/Cubs actually DRAW tourists to the City who would not otherwise go there AND are a fantastic free ad for the City via WGN cable. People actually think the City is green and friendly like Wrigley is. They become die-hard Cub fans and take their vacations in Chicago (and Mesa too).

              If you doubt the Cub/WGN impact take a look at the population growth numbers for Mesa sometime. While the entire area around Phoenix has grown since the Cubs went to Mesa, Mesa itself exploded.

          2. Sandberg

            If the Cubs make a legitimate threat to move to the suburbs, the city and neighborhood will fold like a lawnchair. The Cubs are just being nice now for PR reasons. Cubs gain very little from being in Chicago that they couldn’t get by being strategically located near a metra station.

            1. Scotti

              If the Cubs make a legitimate threat to move to the suburbs, the city and neighborhood will fold like a lawnchair.


  7. Jeff

    Brett, that Jalyn ad has to go, let us know how much revenue that thing makes and we will do another fundraiser but not require you to do any kind of a blog!!

    1. andrew


    2. Luke

      I don’t think Brett has much say over which ads get shown. But that thing does break the website like no other.

  8. lou brock lives

    Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports today that the Blue Jays had 2 scouts at the Garza outing yesterday & have targeted him because of the control they would have on next year’s deal with him as part of their rotation. They would certainly be the frontrunner based on their strong & deep farm system for the Cubs to strike a deal with.
    I would advise the following deal : Garza & W. Castillo for C – D’Arnaud, RHP Sanchez, & LHP Nicolino.

  9. lou brock lives

    For those of you folks who are worried about who would replace certain Cub players should they be traded – Barney – for example – I would suggest you take a look at what Adrian Cardenas has done at Iowa since being sent down. I would agree he is not as good defensively as Barney – no one is – but his bat would likely make up for whatever he would give up at the position.
    I would like to see Cardenas get some time at 3B at Iowa & see Vitters get time in LF. Cardenas is better than Valbuena offensively right now & should Soriano get moved it is possible Vitters could provide some power we would be missing out of LF.

    1. Luke

      Cardenas is hitting about the same now as he did before he came up. I have no idea why Sveum wouldn’t play him.

  10. jim

    You think ricketts kids own the cubs? Be a reporter and find out ownership %

    1. Cubbie Blues

      I don’t think anyone here calls themselves a reporter.

  11. guy

    Ah, it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to rail about why the city shouldn’t pay for any of this. I’ll just limit my comment to quick reminder that Economic Impact Statements are completely full of it – they are incredibly easy to basically say whatever you want them to say, and should never be trusted. Almost never. Especially not when being put forward by an interested party.

    1. Scotti

      I agree that the City shouldn’t pay for any of this. The City should just stop gouging Cub fans with the “entertainment tax” way above what the other teams are paying net. The City does nothing to create, and VERY LITTLE to support, that entertainment.

      However, I disagree on the issue of the economic impact re. Wrigley/Cubs. The data that may show Petco has little plus economic impact for San Diego (or stadium X for city Y) has zero relevance to the relationship to Wrigley and the City. The Cubs are a proven draw–#3 in the State (and, by far, generates the most revenue already for the City of those draws). The Cubs are also, typically, in the top 3 for road attendance year after year regardless of their W-L record (they are 2nd in road attendance this year despite being 5th in home attendance). The Padres were not a proven draw and funding a new park there wasn’t going to change anything. Wrigley is, literally, crumbling and taking the City’s tax foot off of the Cub fan’s neck would help to build a better draw.

  12. hardtop

    with friends like bud selig, who needs enemies

  13. josh2

    Does this mean no more “emperor bud” pictures?

  14. Kevin

    An earlier post suggested that the amusement tax levied on the Cubs is double the amount the other sports teams in Chicago are paying. Can you please send a link that shows this? If the Cubs pay their fair share and not a penny more, then maybe the savings could help fund renovating Wrigley Field. Why are people so in favor of the triangle building? Don’t you think expanding the stands deeper behind 3rd base would allow more seating and convenience inside the park? How about charging for naming rights. If the Wrigley Corporation wants their name ante up and pay for it.

  15. Dan

    The main issue is the team is handicapped by the city placing a landmark status on the field and then saying whst they can and cannot do while giving nothing to the team. The rooftops steal the product for 40 cents on the dollar and then the city taxes the Cubs while the roof top owner does not pay the amusement taxes- so yes the Cubs have a right to ask for money

  16. Kevin

    Time to look for property……. The Cubs have a reaL bad situation.

  17. Reds Reportedly Get All-Star Game in 2015, Could Push Cubs Back to 2019 at the Earliest | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] 1990, so the time frame is appropriate from that perspective, as well. For what it’s worth, Bud Selig has suggested he’d be willing to promise the All-Star Game to the Cubs in the near future as a carrot to [...]