respect wrigleyLast week, the Chicago Cubs were showing possible renovation plans for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area to community groups, and Cubs’ VP of Communications Julian Green said official photos of the renderings of the possible upgrades are going to be presented January 19th – this Saturday, the second day of the Cubs Convention.

About that, I said this:

Now, I ask you: why would the Cubs present the renderings of the future of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area unless they had a pretty good sense that *something* was going to happen, and soon? Last year at the Convention, we saw renderings of the new Dominican facility, which was already green lit. Further, the Cubs announced the new patio section in right field and the new LED board, which had not yet been finalized, but everyone understood were going to happen.

The wheels in my head are turning. Would the Cubs reveal renderings and plans for the Wrigley renovations at the annual fan convention, only to add the caveat that, “we don’t know if any of this is actually going to happen, though, because we don’t know if we can get the funding to make it happen”? I really don’t think they would.

Recall, the hold-up in renovating Wrigley Field has been a long ongoing negotiation about the city and county’s involvement in the funding. The total expenditure, when considering the improvements to the area around Wrigley, is expected to be as much as $400 to $500 million. The Cubs reportedly have sought assistance in paying for these improvements in two ways: (1) a relaxing of the restrictions on ways they can generate revenue at Wrigley Field by way of advertising, street festivals, night games, and physical signage; and (2) a portion of the 12% amusement tax the city and county collect on Cubs tickets (up to $150 million).

Well, it’s looking like my thoughts last week were spot on (if I do say so myself).

Each of Gordon Wittenmyer and Bruce Levine have now reported that the revelation of the renovation plan on Saturday could be indicative that a funding agreement involving the city has been reached.

First, from Wittenmyer:

The Cubs plan to unveil detailed renderings of their plans for a renovated Wrigley Field during a Saturday session of their annual Cubs Convention at the downtown Sheraton this weekend, the culmination of a recent series of more private, local showings in the community — and an indication, some insiders believe, that public funding for the project is imminent.

Then, from Levine, who cites a source:

The Chicago Cubs will announce plans at the Cubs Convention this weekend to renovate Wrigley Field, according to a source familiar with the situation.

President of business operations Crane Kenney will present a detailed design at a seminar Saturday afternoon, the source said ….

The Cubs were close to a deal with Emanuel on the funding of a $400 million refurbishing of the ballpark, the source said. The money was to come from amusement tax on tickets sold that would be retired until the work at Wrigley was paid off.

Levine goes on to caution that the funding deal is not officially in place yet, according to the source. Still, considering the plan to reveal the renovation plans on Saturday, I’ve got to believe, as Levine’s source says, and as Wittenmyer’s insiders speculate, the funding deal is close.

Now, I know the funding aspect of the renovation is controversial, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to be excited about that piece if they don’t agree with public dollars being used at Wrigley Field. But I will say, as I’ve always said, that the renovation of Wrigley and the attending changes to how the Cubs generate revenue, is a huge, huge, huge story for the Cubs’ competitiveness going forward. The ability to generate more dollars means the ability to spend more dollars on the organization and on the big league product. All Cubs fans should be excited about that piece.

And, frankly, it’ll be exciting to have a renovated Wrigley and – if tastefully done – surrounding area. I’m getting pretty anxious for Saturday.

UPDATE: There’s a Crain’s report floating around that says the Ricketts have announced that they’re opening a boutique Sheraton across from Wrigley (which, if on the McDonald’s property, would square with the report last week). The report literally has no other information, but I’ll write it up as soon as there’s more. Seems like the Ricketts are stealing their own thunder on this one.

  • BPaoni

    Amen to that Brett, I’d love to see the plans!

  • Cub Fan Dan

    I’m really looking forward to this session on Saturday. Do you think they would announce that they have secured funding then? I cant see where they reveal these impressive plans of a Wrigley renovation & without having to answer a question of where funding is coming from.

    Also is a BN meetup at Timothy O’Toole’s still planned for Friday? My wife & I are gonna try & swing up there to say hi & I’m sure she wants to show off her new BN shirt. We’ll be bellying up at the hotel bar Saturday as well.

    • Brett

      The details on the meet-up are semi-fuzzy right now, but it looks like it will probably be Lizzie McNeil’s, across the street from the hotel now. I’ll have more details later today (and obviously I’ll keep people updated tomorrow on the fly).

  • Robbo

    I wish I could go to the unveiling on Saturday afternoon. I hope someone that attends has some good coverage of these plans…

  • MightyBear

    Hallelujah. Deal should have been done last year for the 100 anniversary of Wrigley. Hopefully the deal will be done and the renovation done by 2016. 100 anniversary of Cubs at Wrigley.

  • DarthHater

    So when do we get the All-Star Game?

    • MightyBear

      Probably 2015 or 2017. They alternate AL and NL. Don’t know why they can’t do 2 and 2 so the Cubs would get 2014 or 2016 but Selig is an idiot.

  • Beer Baron

    I see the Ricketts family announced today that they are building a Sheraton hotel across the street from Wrigley. I have to assume on the McDonald’s lot they own?

    • DarthHater

      Hopefully they will use the profits from the hotel to help the team compensate for other limitations on its revenue stream.

    • Whiteflag

      You are correct. One of Brett’s articles stated, the cubs plan on building a hotel on the McDonald’s lot. So unless they are building multiple hotels, that would be a good assumption.

      • DarthHater

        You know, Brett is already very good at pointing out when we are insufficiently attentive in reading his articles. Not sure he needs any help on that score. 😉

        • Whiteflag

          Oh yes! His ego seems to be getting a lot bigger lately. :)

          • Brett

            Hey now! All this porn crap has knocked me down plenty …

            (Which reminds me – I’ve removed certain ads that I hope were the offenders. If you are still seeing porn redirects or pop-ups by later this afternoon/tonight, please let me know (it could take some time to cycle out of the system, so I don’t want to jump the gun on saying it didn’t work). If you aren’t seeing them when you’ve viewed enough pages that it would have normally happened by then, could you please go to and see if you’re seeing them there? That’s now become my test site on this problem. If I’m right about the fix, you won’t see them here anymore, but you would potentially see them there.)

            • Whiteflag

              Are you encouraging me to play on my iphone rather than pay attention in class? If you are, don’t worry its not a problem. Just an FYI: I haven’t notice any issues with the site today. I never got the porn pop-up others complained about, just won some an ipad about six or seven times.Clearly, I am really lucky :)

      • Cubbie Blues

        So there is going to be a Sheraton hotel with a McDonalds in it? That will be weird.

        • hansman1982

          A hospital in Des Moines (Mercy) has a McDonald’s in it that is open 24/7.

          • Whiteflag

            Several Hospitals have McDonald’s located within their building. Only in America. Land of Heart Disease.

            • hansman1982

              USA, USA, USA!!!!

      • Beer Baron

        To be fair, the article I read said it was the Ricketts family building the hotel, not the Cubs. So not necessarily the same thing. However I hear they may combine resources by allowing Tony Campana to work as a bellhop once the hotel is open.

      • Toby

        If they are building another hotel, my guess is it will most likely be within walking distance of the new Mesa facility.


  • Ron

    Oh no twitter leaks before a deal is final! Fingers crossed…rally cap or whatever!

    • DarthHater

      Breaking News: Ryan Dempster Vetoes Wrigley Renovation Deal.

  • guy

    I didn’t realize a justifiable use of public funds was ensuring privately owned sports teams can become more competitive and earn more money. Here I thought this money was supposed to be used to fix potholes, fight crime, and educate our kids. Silly me.

    This is still a horrible deal. Every time a Chicagoan complains that their school is underfunded or that there are too few police on the street, I hope they consider how much an additional $400 million would help. Ugh.

    • DarthHater

      Right. Because it’s not like the Cubs increased revenues will be generating more tax dollars for the city or generating other economic activity in the area that will also generate more tax dollars. Nah, that couldn’t be right.

      • MightyBear

        Don’t waste your time. I’ve tried to explain this on this website 1000 times and it still doesn’t sink in.

        • hansman1982


      • hansman1982

        and it’s not like the City is actually forking over any money that will need to be taken from any other fund…

        Nope, we must stand on our soap box and decry things that have no basis in logic or reality.

        • guy

          Just curious – how do you think city finances work? That there’s some sort of series of “core” funds that are dedicated to financing key operations, and then a bunch of auxiliary revenue streams that are, what, essentially bonuses? That if you take money out of these auxiliary streams, it doesn’t really take money from these “core” funds, therefore ensuring the city is able to fully fund it’s core obligations? I think lots of people generally assume city finances work this way – as if the city is a banker, earning its salary (main funds) and occasionally getting a bonus check (secondary taxes, such as the amusement tax).

          Make no mistake, the city is in desperate straits and requires every dollar it can get. Tax money is tax money, whether it comes from sales taxes, amusement taxes, or any other tax. Removing $400 million from total revenue is a notable hit to city revenues.

          • King Jeff

            If the Cubs don’t get the renovations done, then Wrigley will be unusable within a few years, and not only do you lose the portion of the luxury tax that is so vital to the city, you also lose every other bit of income the team and stadium brings to the city. It may not be standard operating procedure for stadium renovations, but tax-breaks and loans are common for businesses looking to renovate in order to increase profits.

            • T C

              In this light, then, I guess the argument in my mind switches more to why you shouldn’t let a group of kids buy a MLB team on $600 million+ in loans, with their father being the reason the loan was granted (even though he and his money are not involved with the team). It leaves the ownership group devoid of a massive income source outside of the team, and forces them to pursue deals like this. I know most teams rely on city funding, but it just reminds me way too much of the craziness surrounding the McCaskey’s and all the money that was spent on the horrendously small and overpriced renovation of Soldier Field

            • Kyle

              There is literally no chance that the Cubs would allow Wrigley to become unusable.

              That’s the ultimate problem with the Cubs’ side of this negotiation. “Think about all the money you’d lose without us” isn’t a remotely credible threat coming from them.

              • BT

                It is if they threaten to move to the western suburbs, something Ricketts hasn’t wanted to do. I’m assuming if he suddenly realized the Cubs were going to be the ONLY professional franchise in the city that wasn’t going to get help, he might change his mind.

                • Kyle

                  Yeah, I don’t believe for a second that the Cubs would go through with that, and neither will the city. Nobody’s buying it.

                  They could have the moving vans loaded up with the engines revving and the new suburban stadium already built and leased, and *still* nobody would buy that they were actually leaving Wrigley. It doesn’t work as a threat.

                  • Myles

                    There was 0% chance that Reinsdorf was moving to Tampa in the 90s, too…except that empty threat also worked.

                    • Kyle

                      Congrats on being the first Cubs fan to equate Comisky and Wrigley.

                      If the White Sox’ threat was 0% credible, that makes the Cubs’ threat -5000% credible.

                    • Myles

                      Congrats on a poor understanding of both statistics and politics.

                  • BT

                    The “charm” of Wrigley pales in comparison to the amount of money they could make in a new stadium with real luxury suites. If someone else is willing to pay for that stadium, as opposed to the Ricketts dropping 400 million of their own money (half of what they paid for the entire team), I think you’d be surprised at how real that threat could get. The obvious problem with that is that the rest of Illinois is broke too, but if the opportunity presents itself, the Cubs would listen.

                    • Kyle

                      I wish I could buy that. I personally find Wrigley to be an overrated dump and would love to see some games at state-of-the-art Cubs Park.

                    • Paul2

                      I agree with BT and Kyle. The only Cub games I attend are at Miller Stadium. It is such a breeze to get in and out of there and plenty of parking. Just wish the Cub could have such a nice set-up. Last Cub game at Wrigley- had to slip a guy a twenty to park in a broken glass paved lot and hope my car was still there when I returned and took us 3 hours to get out of Chicago city limits. Will never do that again. Do they ever wonder how much money they are missing out on?

                    • DarthHater

                      Great nachos at Miller Park, too.

      • T C

        Unfortunately, almost every study on the topic has shown that stadium deals are enormous net-negatives for cities in the short and long-term. I will return with sources, just wanted to point this out first

        Public-funded stadiums as economic stimuli are a total myth

        • TWC

          That’s correct, but those are typically the funded-by-the-city-passeing-a-bond-measure type, no? I’m curious if there are any relevant comparisons to the rumored 10/15 years of redirected (existing) amusement tax revenue.

          • Norm

            I think that’s a first….but I’ll put my money on it having a negative impact in the long run (not on the Cubs, but on the taxpayers)

            • T C

              same here. At the very least, the city is going to have to find the $400 million in redirected tax revenue from somewhere else, which means higher taxes on something else. I suggest the CSO. Everyone going there has the money to pay, like, an extra $250 per ticket, yeah?

          • Brett

            Though wouldn’t the response be that it doesn’t matter, since the city will have to offset the amusement tax losses elsewhere (i.e., increasing taxes not unlikely paying off bond financing)?

            • TWC

              Possibly, yes. But doing it via the amusement tax redirecting doesn’t introduce interest payments on a $400m bond, right? It will create a shortfall that would, presumably, need to be made up elsewhere, but doesn’t directly introduce new debts.

          • Ron

            I think this is basically how Nashville built Titans stadium, thtough deferred taxes. And from what i have read (from memory) it is difficultvto find a nonbiased article on it. Some studies point to overall increased commerce in ththe area and others say that would have happened anyway. It is like calculating “saved jobs” while probably true very hard to acurately quantify.

            • TWC

              Ha. Yes. Thus the unending arguing about it!

        • Norm

          Here’s one that just came out this week.

          Public funding for stadiums is BAD for cities and taxpayers.

          • T C

            yep, I was just about to post that. This heartland piece links to about 15 studies on the topic

            • Ron

              I am not nitpicking but you have to consider your source. Like i said earlier it is very hard to find an unbiased view on these. If you could source think progress AND the weekly standard i would be more inclined to believe it.

              • T C

                Read the link. Its not a heartland institute article, its heartland institute linking to various different studies and articles from various sources, including testimony from a House investigation into public stadium funding.

                • Ron

                  I did. Do you think they would link to a study that disproved it? All i am saying it is difficult to find something unbiased not that i agree or disagree. I personally think it would be harder for the city to make up “lost” revenue with the cubs at wrigley tjan say the titans in nasville because the cubs are already there. For the record even typing “lost revenue” makes my skin crawl because that assumes the money belongs to the govt. in the first place.

              • TWC

                What’s interesting is that if you read the source article that the ThinkProgress article was based on, the reason that the revenue is falling short is that the state has been slow to approve and place the electronic gambling machines in their potential pool of 2500 locations. Currently the machines are only placed in ±120 sites, ~5% of the “optimal”. It’s probably not really fair to call it a “boondoggle” if the program is 95% *not* implemented!

                • T C

                  yeah, I didn’t think too highly of their article, as thinkprogress is about as biased a news source on the internet. I thought it was a different article I had found relating to the Twins new park, my bad

    • ChicagoJoe

      I would hope the sales tax paid on beer, food, apparel, etc. within the city limits over say the past 100 years and next 50 years would be enough to offset the cost of a one time tax break on an already exorbinant 12% amusement tax.

      Just a thought. I haven’t run the numbers or anything.

    • ETS

      The american dream – to give public tax dollars to billionaires to build elaborate play grounds for millionaires!!!

      no srsly your arguments are invalid until the government lifts all the insane restrictions off wrigley. As long as they are going to treat it like it’s at least partially owned by the govt, then it’s going to have to be at least partially funded by the govt.

    • Jim L.

      Let’s lay some blame on Little Richie Daley’s grand plan of giving away city assets, like parking and the Skyway. Maybe Richie can pitch in since he is making big coin, sitting on the board of the parking meter company and swindling the public on his pension deal.

  • Tim

    In the long run this would generate more revenue for the city of Chicago. The Cubs would be bringing in much more revenue therefore able to field a competitive team. When the Cubs are consistently making the playoffs do you really think they won’t sell out every game again? In the end the city would be making much more money than they are giving the Cubs in public funding. Of course Ricketts has the money to pay for this all himself but that would limit the Cubs in the present on and off the field.

  • Mrcub1958

    There are some hilarious posts today. My compliments.

    Preach it Brother Brett…”the renovation of Wrigley and the attending changes to how the Cubs generate revenue, is a huge, huge, huge story for the Cubs’ competitiveness going forward.”

  • Blublud

    The City caved, the Cubs won. Am I wrong for being an excited Cubs at the same time of being an upset tax payer.

    • Kyle

      The best possible scenario is to be a Cubs fan who doesn’t live in Chicago. I hope they raise taxes and give it directly to the team, earmarked for payroll.

      • TWC

        Cheers to THAT!

        • DarthHater

          We are the Knights Who Say NIMBY! You must bring us: A SUBSIDY!

          NIMBY!!! NIMBY!!!

      • Blublud

        Fortunately, I don’t live in Chicago, so it’s not my tax money.

        Here in NC, our state gave Dell computers all this money, can’t remember of the top of my head the amount, but it was several million dollars, to open up a computer plant. The state built the plant I believe with no guarantee that dell would stay for any certain period of time. Dell took the money, hired a ton of people, and shut down like a year later.

        Im an aircraft mechanic, and an Industrial Engineer for an aircarft maintenance company. In my home town, we gave Honda, a foreign company(I won’t express my feelings on that, buy American though, unless it’s a BMW) millions of dollar in tax breaks to build their prototype airplane, HondaJet at the Greensboro Airport. They were supposed to be past the testing and in building mode about three year ago, and they aren’t there yet, though they are close now. In both the cases the govt either loss out or is losing out. When the Govt lose, we lose, and a bunch of guys who are already rich benefit from it.

        This is different from from whats going on at wrigley but not too different.

        Now, the Cubs have one valid point. Wrigley is consider a landmark. If the City or State is going to allow this, then it needs to fund the restrictions it puts on the Cubs. So the City and Cubs should determine how much those restriction cost the Cubs over a years period, and then give them the amount, whether in cash or tax breaks, to cover the losses without expecting a return on it. Do this, or release the restrictions. But in no way should they outright fund a renovation with tax payers money.

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  • JoeyCollins

    I dread these articles becaue i know the comments that follow, and it takes a lot to not get sucked in teaching a math/civics lesson. Here’s my two cents anyway i guess. Taxes on the cubs have already provided an insane amount of money to the city of Chicago. You look at this two ways, as repaying some of that money, or a guarantee to keep that cash flow coming, either way it’s all the same. The city is not writing the Ricketts a check, or passing a bond/new tax so im not sure what the fuss is about. Also, I know the estimates of improvements were in the 400-500 million range but weren’t earlier reports on the financing deal saying the city was only covering part of the expense, right around half i believe, with the ricketts covering the rest? If thats still the case then the city will undoubtedly come out ahead in this deal.

    • guy

      I hope you’re not a public finance professor. Because you’ve clearly never heard of opportunity costs, aka what else the city could do with that money in an alternate scenario. That money would be used to pay for jobs and services, which are almost guaranteed to bring a better return to the city in terms of tax revenue and increased economic activity than giving the money to the Ricketts will. Even if those jobs and services are paid for anyways, it will be by borrowing money or raising taxes. Borrowing money and raising taxes result in deadweight losses to the economy and are highly unlikely to be “balanced out” by extra revenue/economic activity due to Wrigley renovations.

      Remember, you can’t analyze any expenditure without asking “compared to what?” In this situation, the comparison is between a city that didn’t give up those revenues, and one that either borrowed money, raised taxes, or reduced jobs/services.

  • Rich H

    I am not a Chicagoan so my 2 cents means very little on this but I will tell it anyway.

    Remember when the luxury tax was increased in Chicago? They said that the money would be used to maintain Wrigley Field and the surrounding community. Instead it was used to finance the United Center and Comiskey. The City then went so far and sold those places to the state in an effort to not have to maintain them. Yet still never once did what the lurury tax was suppose to do. Now Wrigley is probably 10 years at most away from being condemned without serious renovations and people are mad at Ricketts for asking the city of Chicago to do what it promised the people that it would do when it increased those taxes to begin with? Now I see why I am not a Chicago person. If it was my team I would be looking to the suburbs now and make sure everyone in the city knows why.

    • DarthHater

      Your comment is not ideological, so it must be wrong. 😉

  • baseballet

    Would the funding via the amusement tax deal that the Ricketts family seeks be the only break that the Ricketts get from the city/state as owners of the Cubs? Or do they already get breaks as a big business in Chicago, and this new amusement tax thingy would be an additional break?

  • http://Isa Voice of reason

    I wouldn’t put another dime in wrigley.

    I would take that money and take the cubs to the burbs.

    Honestly, I’m over my love for wrigley.

    Build a brand new park that will hold 80,000 with plenty of parking right next to the park. Then there will always be tickets available and you won’t have to walk forever or park so far away.

    Plenty of restrooms and beer stands with all kinds of food.

    Wrigley field is a dump. It’s falling apart. Get something new and bigger!!!

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