It’s been a long, long time since we’ve heard anything of substance regarding the planned renovation of Wrigley Field. Your 10,000 foot overview is as follows: Wrigley Field desperately needs upwards of $300 million in renovations and upgrades (plus $200 million for “the Triangle Building”), the Cubs would like some public assistance to get to that figure, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is generally amenable to helping secure that assistance, and an aborted attack ad on President Obama planned, in part, by Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts slowed everything to a crawl a couple months ago.

Up to speed?

Ok. From there, we heard pretty much nothing. A new report, however, indicates that talks are actually ongoing behind the scenes, and things are looking good. From NBC Chicago:

The plan to not only rebuild the Cubs’ historical ballpark but an entertainment complex across the street has hit huge roadblocks. Still, there are quiet negotiations going on behind the scenes, NBC Chicago has learned.

“We’re in at least weekly communication with the Cubs and the Ricketts family,” Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Wednesday.

Tunney, who was originally lukewarm to the $500 million project, has turned more supportive.

“Most stadiums have some component of public financing,” he explained. “Whether they’ve been good investments, you’d have to look at them individually.”

He added that mayor Rahm Emanuel “has pretty much put a lid” on what any public financing numbers would be: roughly $125 million in increment financing on amusement tax.

The Ricketts family is reportedly willing to invest $200 million, and there is a possibility the state could throw in $150 million in bonds.

The state possibility seems a stretch, given the strident comments by Governor Pat Quinn (let’s just say, he’s not supportive), but the Cubs could also try to raise some of the funding by way of relaxed restrictions on their activities and advertising in the Wrigleyville area.

All in all, this is great news for the Cubs. It sounds like the Joe Ricketts flap may have cost them $25 million (originally, the Cubs were hoping the city would kick in $150 million by way of a portion of the amusement tax on Cubs tickets, but that number appears now to be down to $125 million).

At present, the Cubs have the worst of all worlds, when it comes to stadium financing: they own the ballpark, so they have to pay for all upkeep. At the same time, they are restricted in the ways they can use that ballpark to generate revenue. On top of that, their tickets are subject to an onerous 12% amusement tax. No one will spill tears for the Cubs’ owners, mind you, but the ability of those owners to maximize the revenue that they can put back into the Cubs should be of tremendous import to all of us.

Tunney adds in the article that he thinks the renovation could be done in a year or 18 months, if the Cubs relocated baseball for one season. Moreover, he might even support that approach. Obviously a relocated season has been described by almost everyone as an extraordinarily unlikely possibility, but I do find it interesting that Tunney – whose largest supporters are the rooftop owners (who would be strongly negatively impacted by a relocated season) – now supports it. Is that telling? Does he know something he’s not sharing?

I have no idea. But it’s interesting.

  • Leroy K.

    Uggh how can Quinn be a Cardinals fan? LOL!!!!

  • Dan

    If the Cubs were to re-locate for one season to a new stadium, especially U.S Cellular… I…But…My… My sides hurt…

    • ColoCubFan

      Yeah, but we could finally find out if the curse is real or not! If they won the World Series that year, then what?

      • Chris84

        Then it would give Sox fans one more thing to hang over our heads.

        • North Side Irish

          All the more reason to get it done soon while the Cubs are nowhere close to contention right now.

    • BD

      I know the players would almost certainly hate it more, but in this type of situation I would prefer to see their “Home” games at Miller Park.

      I’m not sure U.S. Cellular can handle sellout crowds, since there isn’t much data to go on.

      • UrbanTed

        Not a chance. Season ticket holders aren’t going up to Milwaukee for a season. The cell isn’t a great option, but it’s the only one.

  • Section503

    I was looking for an update on this. Thanks Brett!

  • BD

    That 12-18 month business sounds like a plan to get it done for the 2014 all-star game…

    • North Side Irish

      2014 ASG is almost certainly going to be in Minnesota and 2015 is probably in D.C. I like the 2016 idea since it will be the 100th year that the Cubs have played at Wrigley.

      Some obstacles in that MLB usually likes to alternate leagues, but they’ve made exceptions before.

      • BD

        I agree, I prefer 2016. But if the right agreement is in place (i.e. with Dark Emperor Bud), that is the only reason I could see for transplanting the Cubs in order to finish more quickly. Take your time and aim for 2016!

      • Kyle

        Think about all the all-stars they could have in 2016 too…

        • CubbiesOHCubbies

          Plus it’s a nice little consolation prize for mayor daleys failed Olympic bid in 2016

          • Dan

            and probably failed SuperBowl attempt as well.

  • ron

    For the record I am essentially against public financing, but I am also against excessive taxation by the state but that is another argument. I do wonder though if the recent “threat”of actual litigation against Emmanuel and that alderman over the Chick Fil A fisco may help the Cubs.

    • Scotti

      Possibly but that would certinly be an odd turn of events since Laura Ricketts is not only gay but has a gay PAC. I’m sure that she’d take it, though.

  • Pete

    I think this will all happen, it’s just a matter of time. To me, this situation is as big of a reason (albeit unspoken) that Ricketts brought in Theo as any baseball acumen that he may have. I believe that Theo has been instructed to: (1) bring about the renovation of Wrigley (both vis-a-vis the players and the fans); (2) create something akin to Yawkey Way around Wrigley; (3) pull off the Triangle Building complex; and (4) increase all other forms of revenue from ads and from anything else that he can think of. The Red Sox organization now prints money and, while the development of that began before Theo took over as GM, he clearly brought it to full fruition. The debt from the purchase is still a problem (which will play a role with future payrolls) but will not block the organization’s efforts in this area. IMO, Ricketts first interest has always been to be cash flush. Not to say that is necessarily bad.

    • John

      This is 100% Crane Kenny’s area, not Theo’s. In Boston Theo wasn’t working on this type of stuff either. That isn’t to say that CK doesn’t ask Theo what the Red Sox were trying to do with Yawkey, or expanded seating areas, RSN, or whatever but it wasn’t his focus in Boston and is outside his responsibilities here.

  • MaxM1908

    Hey Hey, now that the Dempster drama is winding down, why don’t we reignite the Joe Ricketts debate? (Disclaimer: This is a joke. Please do not take me seriously. I do not believe that Brett could handle it.)

    • Brett

      Yeah. I may have liked that story even less than the Dempster one.

      (Well, it was close.)

      • MaxM1908

        Add two parts political passion and two parts sports passion. Mix well. Serve on an annonymous message board. That my friends is a recipe for a rip-roaring good time.

        • calicubsfan007

          @Max: You forgot the pinch of annoying trolls that like to make these discussions more interesting. (;

  • lou brock lives

    Nothing gets done until the Chicago Teachers Union contract gets resolved & you can also probably throw in the Illinois State Pension workers issue in Springfield. No politician will be willing to vote for public monies to flow toward fixing Wrigley problems until these other huge fiscal nightmares are out of the way.
    Once again I would urge the Ricketts family to consider changing Wrigley to either a Triple AAA minor league stadium (replacing Iowa) or a single A stadium replacing Peoria – revenue could be used to help build the new stadium at Arlington Park Racetrack, Maywood Park Racetrack, Lane Tech H.S., or Waveland Park District Golf Course. All would be acceptable to the Cub fan base & Illinois taxpayers.

  • MightyBear

    I think they need to relocate to Milwaukee for a season. Then all the naysayers can see the impact economically of the Cubs when all that business and tax revenue goes to Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Maybe then they’ll whistle a different tune.

    • hansman1982

      Brilliant idea – I would prefer they relocate to Des Moines but hey, I’m greedy

      This way they could measure the economic impact to Chicago, Wrigleyville and the Cubs. If there is a net impact to the Cubs they pay the entire bill. If there is a net impact to the City and Wrigleyville they pay the entire bill.

      • MightyBear


  • SouthernCub

    I suppose the mayor is still “on board” as long as Chicagoans boycott Chick-fil-a

  • Fastball

    Instead of paying $500 Mil to fix Wrigley just build a new stadium. I know it’s a landmark. I think its a matter of stubborness in the way people want to think about it. If they build a new stadium the Cubs can keep playing at Wrigley until it’s done. Build a replica somewhere else that is easier to access with all the amenities. Nothing lasts forever except the curse. Ricketts can sell the real estate and or develop it into something else that he could make money on. It just seems like your putting money into a car that is old and keeps breaking down. At some point it’s cheaper and less aggrevating to buy a new one. A brand new Wrigley would be just as awesome and draw just as many people because everyone would want to see it and that tradition of the trip to Wrigley will go on and the curse on the team and the stadium will cease.

    • David

      The renovation is going to be drastic and is going to result in practically a new Wrigley on the existing footprint.

  • Fastball

    Question: How much did Great American Ball Park, located in Cincinnati Ohio cost to build?

    Answer: Great American Ball Park, located in Cincinnati Ohio construction cost was $290 Million. The stadium was constructed in 2003 and designed by Populous and GBBN Architects.

    Seems to

  • Fastball

    Question: How much did Great American Ball Park, located in Cincinnati Ohio cost to build?

    Answer: Great American Ball Park, located in Cincinnati Ohio construction cost was $290 Million. The stadium was constructed in 2003 and designed by Populous and GBBN Architects.

    Seems like $500 Mil for a renovation job… is all about somebody his getting hosed.

  • kb

    I would love to have the Cubs play a year away from Wrigley, for a myriad of reasons.
    They could restructure Soldier Field (ala the Dodgers at L.A. Coliseum)…that’d be kind of cool.

    • Jim

      I think that it would be pretty cool to see the Cubs play in Soldier Field. Could it be set up for baseball? April baseball directly on Lake Michigan would be really interesting … And cold!

  • cavemencubbie

    I would love to see the Cubs and the Bears get together and build a stadium complex in one of the suburbs. Maybe that would send a message to the pols at city hall, reminding them there is such a thing as free speech and the use of your own property.

  • Brett

    I should add a nod to BN’er Eric for alerting me to the fact that there was probably a Wrigley update out there from NBC Chicago!

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