Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Moving Games from Wrigley Was Seriously Considered

respect wrigleyAccording to Chicago Cubs VP of Communication Julian Green, the team did very seriously consider moving a portion of their home slate of games to Miller Park in Milwaukee while renovations were being done at Wrigley Field.

Green, who spoke to Gordon Wittenmyer, says the plan, which would have moved home games in April and May 2014 and 2015 to Miller Park, is now “off the table,” and was just one of many options considered. Clearly, the Cubs were hoping to accelerate the renovation process, whenever they were able to get it started.

Green conceded to Wittenmyer that part of the reason the Cubs scrapped that plan is because it would seem untoward to receive public funding and then take games – and the associated revenue for the city and surrounding businesses – out of Chicago.

That’s probably the right awareness to have, even if it slows the renovation slightly.

Wittenmyer’s article is worth a read for those heavily interested in the renovation story. In it, he notes that sources now say we probably won’t hear about funding at tomorrow’s renovation unveiling (though I still say there’s no way they unveil the plans unless they know the funding isn’t going to be a problem), and suggests the Cubs could see an annual increase in revenues upwards of $95 million once the renovations are complete.

Like I keep saying: this is a hugely important story for the Cubs’ future.

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

73 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Moving Games from Wrigley Was Seriously Considered”

  1. Rian

    Help me with some math. From the Wittenmeyer article:

    “According to a source with direct knowledge of the analysis, the Cubs anticipate $95 million in additional annual revenue directly resulting from the renovations. That’s more than a 30 percent increase from pre-renovation revenue.”

    Does that mean that, post-renovation, total annual revenue from the ballpark will be $95 million? Or does it mean that current annual revenue is about $73 million (73 * 1.3 = 95), and the renovations will result in $95 million additional revenue per year, bringing post-renovation total annual revenue to $168 million?

    That’s a huge gap, and while Wittenmeyer’s language seems to suggest the latter option, I’m struggling to conceive how the Cubs can find a way to wring 130% more money out of Wrigley simply via renovations.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “Does that mean that, post-renovation, total annual revenue from the ballpark will be $95 million? ”

      no, post renovation, total revenue will be $300M +$95M = $395M roughly

  2. MightyBear

    Hey I wonder why the City didn’t want those games played at Miller Park? Could it be the loss of tax revenue? Interesting.

    1. Pat

      Possibly, but the tax revenue the Cubs bring in is still a fraction of one percent of total city revenue.

      1. JB88

        Where are you deriving your numbers? If the area lost 20% of Cubs’ home games, that would have a huge impact on local businesses, amusement tax revenue, and sales tax revenue.

        I have no hard numbers and this is 100% a guess, but I would estimate that if the area lost 16 home games that would easily have a $10MM economic impact on the city and surrounding businesses.

        1. Pat

          http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info/2012%20Budget/2012BudgetOverview.pdf

          That’s the city budget from last year. Around eight billion in total revenue (accounting for the fact they are running at a deficit).

          16 home games would mean approximately six hundred thousand tickets sold. At an average of $50 each, that’s about thirty million dollars, of which the city sees about three million. About enough to run the city for a day and a half. And that is assuming all those dollars are not spent on the city anyway.

          1. BT

            That’s a silly way to look at it. Anything seems small if you compare it to the ENTIRE city budget. Even if your numbers are correct, do you really think the city would turn their nose up at the money because it’s “only” 3 million dollars?

            1. MichiganGoat

              The loss isn’t as much loss the the city but the loss to the Wrigleyville business, hotels, and all the other things a home game brings to the city.

              1. hansman1982

                Remove Wrigley and you remove a TON of money from that neighborhood that features some ridiculously old buildings and without some major investments/incentives from the city it’d turn into a ghetto pretty quick.

                1. Pat

                  Yeah, it will turn into one of those ghettos that costs a half million to buy into. In all reality, due to all the bars, it would turn into even more of a housing district for college and just post college students than it already is. Imagine the horror!

  3. JB88

    That is a huge increase, which I expect means that the Cubs extracted a whole lot more freedom to host night games, concerts, and ad signage. Couple that sort of money with a new TV contract at some point and the Cubs could be looking at nearly $150 MM in new revenue.

    And, if RIcketts stays true to his word, that will represent a huge reinvestment in the club (albeit, not necessarily all at the ML level).

    1. hansman1982

      Ya, with that kind of increase the Cubs could be looking at acting more like a big market team. An extra $75-100M a year to spend on the big team and facilities with another $25-50M going to the minors and player development would make a world of difference.

      1. Kyle

        I vote we just use it all to take on bad contracts from poorer teams and have them send prospects along in the deal.

    2. Northside Neuman

      If the Cubs get a contract anything like the Dodgers or Angels just recieved with their new regional sport cable networks you are looking at $100 million plus A YEAR in additional revenues from cable TV. That doesn’t factor in the new national league wide TV contract that starts this year that is pumping in a ton of new money to each team. The main revenue driver of MLB is now TV, not the Gate as it always was in the past.

  4. dash

    What about using Cellular Field? I thought that was something under consideration a long time ago.

    1. John

      The Sox can’t even draw their own fans down there even if they are winning. Add the red line renovation that’s coming and it would be an even bigger pain to get people down there.

      1. Brandon

        That’s true but the money would still go to the city, and even though it would be slightly more difficult to get to Comiskey than Wrigley, it’s still much closer than going to another city in another state.

        The only reasons I could think of are related to whether Reinsdorf would allow it, and/or whether he would end up wanting city revenues for Comiskey in the near future.

        If they were to play in another location, I would much rather they play at Comiskey than in Milwaukee.

        1. Northside Neuman

          The City owns the Cell, if Reindorf balked at allowing the Cubs to play at the field he rents for peanuts and on the tax payers back, he’d get run out of town.

  5. MichiganGoat

    Add the increase in TV revenue once the WGN/CSN deal is over/bought out and the Cubs will dramatically increase there revenue which will increase payroll dramatically as we build toward the goal of being a consistent contender.

    ***Cue: Ricky is cheap crowd, just lining his pockets crowd***

    1. abe

      sign all the players!!!!!

    2. MIck

      Yea sure, hey top 5 beer list time!

      1. Bell’s Two-Hearted
      2. Surly Furious
      3. Toppling Goliath PseudoSue
      4. Founders Sweet Child of Vine
      5. Surly Hell

      1. hansman1982

        1. Natty Ice 24 oz can
        2. Natty Ice Draught
        3. Natty Ice 16 oz can
        4. Natty Ice 12 oz can
        5. Natty Ice out of a toilet bowl

        1. Mick

          Ha, I thought for sure you’d second the PseudoSue. You live in Des Moines, right? Toppling Goliath is a brewery in Decorah and only distributes to Iowa, for now, expansion coming.

          1. hansman1982

            Eh, I’m not much of a craft beer guy. Far too many of them get a “tasty” rating only because they are craft.

            That and I am horribly anti-trend/fad.

            1. Mick

              Craft means different things to different people, to me it means fresh. Nothing like a good fresh tap beer. Oh man, just 2 more hours to go, it must be Friday. Anything Toppling Goliath, especially PseudoSue is the best beer brewed in Iowa, take pride brother!

            2. TWC

              Joe, your conflation of craft- and microbrews as a “trend/fad” is ridiculous. I mean, like what you like and all, I don’t care, but to disparage folks who *don’t* enjoy cheaper/mass produced beer as simply trend-followers is inane. Mass-marketed, multinational corporate breweries are much more of a recent trend than local, small batch micro brewers.

              1. Hansman1982

                I’m not trying to disparage the genuine people who enjoy microbrews, hell go for it I just dislike people who are enjoying microbrews who do so just because its the thing to do. The people who order a triple strawberry beer only because they are too old for wine coolers.

                Enjoy what you want and I’ve had a few good beers along with a few skunk tasting beers that others at the table insisted were delicious because you could taste how fresh they were.

                I apply the same logic to “wine connessueirs” while they drink $12 bottle of wine like its a beer bong at a frat party.

              2. DarthHater

                Yea, well, opposing multinational corporate mass-production is just another one of those trendy northern California fads, so same difference… ;-)

                1. TWC

                  Larf.

                  Nice wig.

          2. hansman1982

            Although, my favorite non-cheap beer is either Spaten Optimator or Warsteiner Dunkel.

            Although I am sure to many Germans that’d be about like saying I love Bud and Bud Light.

            1. Mick

              Beam me up lager, Bud heavy’s my fallback.

            2. MichiganGoat

              No those are quality brews and well above the flavored water of most American domestic lagers

      2. MichiganGoat

        MIBeer is well represented there but Sweet Child of Vine is not Founders (trust me I know those beers). But there are better ones that Two Hearted coming out of Michigan.

        1. Mick

          Ah crap, you’re right it’s Fulton Sweet Child of Vine not Founders. Michigan’s a hotbed for great beer, what’s your top 5? I need to know what to try next.

          1. MichiganGoat

            Okay right now they are (in no particular order)
            1-Founders – Dirty Bastard (a fridge stable Scottish Ale)
            2-Shorts Brewing – Huma Lupa Licious (the best IPA but Shorts doesn’t distribute out of MI)
            3-New Holland Brewing – Dragon’s Milk
            4-Founders CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) – very hard to get hold of since they sell out in hours, luckily I live a few miles away from the brewery and always wait in line on release day and collect a few – put this on your Holy Grail list
            5-Founders – Devil Dancer – a 12% ABV Triple IPA that will leave you speechless.

            Ones you should be able find easily from Founders are: Centennial IPA (better than two hearted) and Breakfast Stout (amazing if you ever have a chance to get it on a Nitro tab). Look for New Holland Brewing’s Cabin Fever (a good brown ale that I’m finding myself enjoying more and more) or any of their Mad Hatter IPA.

            Beer is the best thing about Michigan, support our struggling economy drink Michigan Craft Beer!

            1. Danny Ballgame

              HopSlam???

              1. MichiganGoat

                Hell yes a great DIPA but I prefer Founders Double Trouble for a DIPA

            2. MichiganGoat

              Damn I love it when we get into a beer discussion… Where’s TWC he can give us some west coast insight.

            3. Mick

              Thanks Goat, I just wrote down every one of these beers to try. I live in Minneapolis so, I can usually find most everything otherwise I drive over to Hudson, WI (20 miles). If there’s one thing those dirty Sconnies know, its beer.

              1. MichiganGoat

                You should be able to find the Founders (minus the CBS) and even most of the New Holland. Other MI breweries to check out: Jolly Pumpkin, Brewery Vivant, Arcadia, North Peak – we have so many exceptional craft breweries here.

                1. Mick

                  Do you have liquor stores in MI? In MN you can only buy at liquor stores, not anywhere else. Also, no alcohol sales on Sunday, liquor stores can only be open until 8pm M-Th and 10pm Fri and Sat. Anywho, yea, my store’s got a pretty good MI selection but that Two Hearted 5 liter can’s got my name all over it: http://www.france44.com/browse.cfm/michigan/2,524.html?VIEW=ALL&

                  Have you tried any Surly product? I’m not sure how far they distribute but it’s the best thing MN’s got going in the way of craft beer along with Summit and Brau Brothers. Unless you’d consider Grain Belt Premium craft?

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Oh we can buy in the grocery store, pharmacy, and gas station, and get growler fills straight from the brewers tap and can buy all day Sunday. Those blue laws suck.

        2. WGNstatic

          Hmmm… not sure I can agree on anything being better than Two Hearted Ale… but then again my love of trout, the U.P., and Hemingway admittedly bias me towards Two Hearted Ale.

          1. MichiganGoat

            Have you had Short’s Huma Lupa Licious (closer to the UP than Bells) or Founders Centennial IPA. I think they are both better.

            1. WGNstatic

              Founders yes, shorts no. The two hearted is a great trout stream in the up, which Hemingway wrote a short story about, so although Kalamazoo isn’t close, the namesake is up nort.

              Do love the beer discussions. We have some top notch beers here in wisconsin that aren’t distributed out of state. O’so hopdinger is a great one for those fans of NW style IPAs.

  6. Luke D

    The Cubs probably would have won the Series at Miller Park in 2015. How would y’all feel about that?

    1. CubbiesOHCubbies

      You can’t win a World Series in April or may, and since those are the only two months they would be there it kind of makes for a useless point. Don’t ya think?

  7. MichCubFan

    I hope they keep a lot of games on WGN…There are a lot of Cubs fans like me who don’t live in Chicago that want to watch the Cubbies play on TV. It would be smart to keep those out of town fans by giving them their fix. Not saying that would effect my fan status…that isn’t possible, but there would be a lot of fans/future fans that they would lose if they took their games of off WGN.

    1. desertrat

      Yes, I’m in the same boat, living in California. If the game is not on WGN, then I’m stuck watching a pitch-by-pitch simulation on the Internet, either from cubs.com or ESPN’s Gamecast.

      1. TWC

        Sure it ain’t free, but the nice thing about being a California Cubs fan is that you get to watch >150 games on MLB.tv or via the MLB app without blackouts! And the radio broadcast of *every game* is a mere $15/season.

        1. yield51

          TWC nailed it. You guys are in better shape than I am. I cut the cable about a year ago. I live too far out of the city to be able to get any antenna coverage, but I am squarely in the blackout zone. I would gladly pay for the MLB package if not for the ridiculous blackouts.

          1. kgd

            It’s actually easier than people would think to bypass the MLB.TV blackout restrictions by using a service like Tor, personal ethics pending of course.

            1. ETS

              how ethical is it that I’m blocked out of 6 networks?

              1. kgd

                Oh I agree. I subscribe to MLB.TV in the Cubs blackout zone just because I can’t justify paying Comcast or ATT ridiculous amounts just to watch Cubs games when I’d only be able to watch night games anyway. I was just saying some people might take issue with it.

                1. MXB

                  One thing you may want to consider is to sign up with a VPN provider. MLB.tv bases its blackout rules by IP address so using a VPN should (theoretically, I haven’t tested yet but plan too) allow you to bypass the blackout.

                  1. Twinkletoez

                    or you can simply go to any “free proxy” website and you can route through say CA if you want :)

                  2. kgd

                    Tor’s free and free proxy sites are unreliable at best from my experience.

                  3. yield51

                    I have no moral or ethical problems of using a proxy or whatever, I’m just uneducated about it. If I did go through an IP masking or hiding site or whatever you call them, what are the consequences if MLB or NHL found out? The Cubs and Hawks are the only thing that I miss after cutting the cable. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime offer everything I would ever want for how little I watch TV. If I could get Cubs and Hawks broadcasts for $300 or so a year without blackouts, I would be all over it.

                    If anybody out there has done something similar to this please tell me how. Can I run everything through Roku, or would I have to watch on laptop? Do you have a choice of your home market? Obviously choosing an A.L. only city would be most beneficial as a Cubs fan (Seattle?). This has really sparked my interest since the first Hawks game is tomorrow. I was prepared to go through hockeystreams for $18/month, but now might get the NHL package.

                    1. kgd

                      You’d need to go through your laptop or computer. Short rundown: download Tor: https://www.torproject.org/
                      Once Tor is running on your computer and you’re connected to the Tor network, tell your computer to use a proxy: http://answers.oreilly.com/topic/675-how-to-configure-proxy-settings-in-windows-7/

                      Set the proxy address as 127.0.0.1.

              2. hansman1982

                Fellow Des Moinennitte, I see.

                But it’s just soooooo easy for us to drive 3-7 hours to go to the game.

                1. ETS

                  Yeah, I was about to buy season tickets to the brewers games then I got mlb.tv instead :facepalm:

    2. Edward

      Yes fewer and fewer games on WGN each year…

      I haven’t watched them much since they got swept by the Dodgers in 2008. I knew the team was in trouble for years to come because the payroll was maxed out and there was so little in the farm system at the time.

      Finally have renewed interest and hope since Theo took over.

  8. baseballet

    A question regarding the controversy with the funding for Wrigley’s renovation. Would the funding plan the Ricketts family seeks (the amusement tax plan) be the only break that the Ricketts get from the city/state as owners of the Cubs? Or do they already get financial breaks as a big business in Chicago, and the proposed amusement tax plan would be an additional break? I have no idea but I’m guessing others on here do…

  9. Da_Cubs
    1. EQ76

      Those are awesome…sad to not see any pitchers make the “wet dream” HOF.

    2. ETS

      Bret Jackson – Set a record as untouchable as the 56 game hitting streak 550 strike outs in a season.

      1. EQ76

        haha.. yeah. I cracked up at the “went 4 full seasons without committing an error” part.

        1. ETS

          That part I believe. Just like I believe I won’t commit an MLB error in the next 4 seasons.

          1. DarthHater

            Bah. I haven’t committed an error in the last 31 seasons!

  10. justinjabs

    As a Cubs fan in Milwaukee, I would not have complained one bit.

  11. HawkClone

    Cubs avoid arbitration with Jeff Samardzija and James Russell

    1. HawkClone

      Samardzija: $2.64 mil
      Russell: $1.075 mil

      1. MichiganGoat

        Wow I expected Shark to get a lot more than that.