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1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWNow *this* is an Obsessive Watch.

Expectedly, the Chicago Cubs – or, more precisely, the Ricketts Family – had a response ready and waiting for today’s proposal by the rooftop owners outlining Wrigley Field. For those who missed that proposal, I wrote about it earlier today:

Essentially, their offer is this: if the Cubs agree not to block their views, so that they can keep operating on a revenue-sharing basis with the Cubs (under the current agreement, 17% of the revenue goes to the Cubs, the rooftops keeps the rest), the rooftops will pass on all revenue from new ad signage to the Cubs and the City. The new ads will largely be digital signage, and the rooftops estimate it could generate from $10 to $20 million annually, based on a study from the Platt Retail Institute.

My initial take was: it seems fair on its face, so long as some questions are answered, and so long as the money the Cubs could net by way of the rooftops ads is comparable to what they could net within Wrigley Field.

That last one was a big “if,” and it sounds like the Cubs don’t see comparable value.

“A deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city of Chicago to move forward,” Ricketts Family spokesperson Dennis Culloton said today, per the Tribune, before turning to the advertising proposal. “Inside the ballpark is going to be infinitely more valuable than advertising outside the ballpark.”

And that may very well be that. If it is true that there is no advertising cooperation that generates nearly as much money as the Cubs could, themselves, generate within the ballpark (in a way that doesn’t destroy the character of Wrigley Field, and thus negate some of that value), it’s going to be difficult to proceed in tandem with the rooftops short of an alteration of their current revenue sharing agreement (which presently pays the Cubs 17% of the rooftops’ revenues).

Unfortunately, this fight feels like it is on the precipice of getting ugly. Not only do the Cubs not seem receptive to the rooftops’ proposal, but the rooftops ejected a Cubs employee from their presentation this morning, according to the Tribune’s report.

A protracted dispute – particularly one that involves the courts – is in nobody’s best interests. Time is critical to the Cubs’ efforts, and litigation is both slow and expensive. Speaking from experience, it is also wildly unpredictable. The Cubs obviously need to protect their right to generate as much revenue as they possibly can, but I’m hopeful that everyone proceeds cautiously from here.

  • Casey Stengel

    I’ve long been annoyed with rooftop owners but this is the end. There video was misleading (landmarked sight lines?) and insulting. Lets go over this simply and clearly for the owners. You do not own the team. You do not own the park. Your buildings and views are not blocked now by the grace of the team.

    What else? You are profiting from stealing a product you have no hand in paying for. Well, you give 17%. So, you get to keep 84% of the profits from theft. In what jursdiction would be legal otherwise (think diamond theft, art theft)?

    The Tribsters, as Zell said, should have bought up all the real estate. Didn’t happen. Lucky owners. Keeping the buildings is important. But they should be getting nothing from the Cubs and sharing a minimum of 50-50.

    For years they whined and complained about this and that. Why should we have sympathy for them and the neighbors. You chose to live in Wrigleyville. Real estate has sky rocketed the here on the whole in the last 20 years. A few more night games are an issue? Again, people chose to buy there. No one forced that. Plenty of other great places to live. And I grew up there. I’m not from the outside.

    Finally, Cubs fans have an ally in the Ricketts family. I’m sure if they had their druthers they’d just as soon dump all the owners (except the club they partially own). Tom Tunney, for all he brings to office, is so pathetically linked to these owners because of a hundred grand in donations? Does he seriously believe he would lose his city council seat if he pissed off a small group? He could replenish that cash from the Ricketts family, his restaurant community, and genuine deep ties to the ward. He has done a lot of great things. Not this. This is the wrong side. If he continues to get in the way, I plan to never eat at Ann Sather again. My waist line would thank me.

    I don’t care if the rooftops are charming. This is a business. As a season ticket holder, I want revenue that is plowed back into the team. Also key? No. public. Money. None.

    So amazing that a bunch of thieves think they can hijack this.

  • 5412

    Dear insane,

    We shall agree to disagree. Ricketts is a businessman and did his due diligence before buying the team. Please read my previous post, how lucky are we to have him.

    What part of compromise do you fail to understand? We have spent tons of taxpayer dollars, financed by the biggest draw in the City our Cubs, to build every other sports facility. Now he says OK, I understand you don’t want to pay for it. Instead I will lay out $300 million, but let me run my business like any other business in the city so I can earn my $300 million back.

    He does not owe the rooftop owners a damn thing, any more than he owes the networks anything when the TV contracts expire.

    Compromise means compromise. What skin have the rooftop owners or the City offered the Cubs? So far the City will pay for nada, continue to rape Cub fans with amusement taxes, and the rooftop owners say they can put signs on the top of their buildings. In the meantime the city reaps sales taxes, amusement taxes, higher property tax values as a result of Wrigley being there. Move Wrigley out and you have another slum in a decade.

    Seems to me so far this is a one way deal, Ricketts has put up $300 million, will create a few thousand jobs, improve the neighborhood, protect their property values, improve the city tax base…just to mention a few. What so far has he got back in return??

    If the rooftop owners and city are so stupid as to not be fair, they deserve to lose the team to another location. Make no mistake the Dodgers left Brooklyn, the Braves left Milwaukee and the Cubs are perfectly capable of moving to the suburbs.

    regards,
    5412

    • Martin

      “Seems to me so far this is a one way deal, Ricketts has put up $300 million, will create a few thousand jobs, improve the neighborhood, protect their property values, improve the city tax base…just to mention a few. What so far has he got back in return??”

      Probably about a billion dollars in increased value of his franchise.

      Ricketts wants to do this because it is going to make him more money, which is exactly what he should be doing. The city “owes” him nothing other than to allow him the freedom to adjust his stadium to fits what he believes is the best way to do it.

      • Behind enemy lines (south side cub fan)

        Even that is iffy to me — we all face regulations of many kinds — I can’t have a concert until 2am in my basement, for instance, nor can I build something on my property against many codes incl. height restrictions etc. The fact is, the cubs owners have a lot of money to make and in no small part due to their connections to the city. That they, like everyone else, have to follow rules while they make that money is no great problem.

  • insanejackass

    .” Move Wrigley out and you have another slum in a decade”.- not the way to do buisness, but i can respect the threat and do the Brewers and Mets come to mind, Do you really think the City of Chicago will let Ricketts underscore the City and or the State. lets see how this plays out.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    Do I think Chicago is that dumb? Comeon they are politicans, that alone should answer the question. The city is broke, Cook County has the highest sales tax rate in the country, and the infrastructure is crumbling. I sure don’t think that is a result of having smart people in charge.

    I honestly think that Rahm probably gets it and the alderman is an idiot. It took Miami almost six years to get it and there was a genuine threat to move the team. Most any suburb would cut the team an incredible deal. What do I think will happen? I think the local sportswriters will get behind Ricketts so it will get resolved.

    Here is my survey. We are probably talking a differnce in revenue to the Cubs of about $20 million max. Now if they do it the way I want it done, the Cubs put up the sign and get the revenue. That money buys an impact player, a few scouts and a whole lot more.

    So here is my question. Would you rather the team gets the revenue or they lose it so rooftop owners can continue to pay off aldermen? Isn’t our one common trait that we are Cub fans and want the team to win?

    For once in our life we have an owner committed to winning and putting an incredible amount of money where his mouth is. We should be thankful and giving him our full support.

    regards,
    5412

  • 5412

    Hi again insane,

    I missed the comments about the Brewers and Mets. Do you really think if the Cubs moved to the suburbs that MLB would allow another franchise in Chicago? The New York Giants moved to New Jersey, the Cubs could move just as easily.

    regards,
    5412

  • insanejackass

    or like the A”s situation , are they still barking to move to San Jose , maybe the move wont be easy ,and profitable for Ricketts by staying in Chicago . I understand that you understand The Cubs Have no leverage and dadddy Ricketts has no leverage – you tend to ingnore that- kinda like what the Mayor is doing . Sure buddy- talk to tunney once you can figure him out / then talk to.City Hall.

    i suppose .

  • Chad78

    I can’t believe I’m responding to an obvious troll like insane dumbass but do you really think that ricketts has no leverage. You are talking about a broke city and state with a large unemployment rate. Do you really think the city is going to let a few people that own a few buildings screw this up.

    • insanejackass/ Crazyhorse

      listen shit stinker ,I was just matching his tone and discussion style. feel free to interrupt the meaning, I actually love the Ricketts Plan , – I think a few obstacles are in place but nothing that a deal cant be reached on.iI think it was great PR and as a Cub Fan id like to see those changes and modern improvements,

      yet it really up to the community on the finer points – and everything has a domino effect. how may night games , how many concerts – the cost and responsibility of certain things form parking permits and the hotel – you make one exception pretty soon the residential area is shrinking and so on.

      The finer points the important points, The roof tops – they have the contract with Cubs and i dont see them giving up easily. but if Ricketts want to negotiate I think the man can get it done,

      i mocked 5412 tone

      if these talks would have been easy, the discussion , with Cubs and the city would be over. It will get done …eventually.

  • AJ

    I love the CUBS if moving gets us a WS sign me up.

  • AJ

    Wrigley*

  • cubfanincardinalland

    It really is getting to the point of the Cubs having to use some leverage. You can see it coming. Do not think this franchise could not move to a new home. The Dodgers as we speak are giving no guarantees to staying in Dodger Stadium.
    There are only two teams in sports that have not moved. The Cubs are the exception, not the norm. They have to jump through hoops, find a new circus.

    • Ifittakesforever

      But the Dodgers new management has already taken immediate action on renovating Dodger Stadium’s clubhouses, outfield bleachers, scoreboards and etc for this upcoming season.

  • Chad78

    Yea I’m a stinker what are you 11 years old. I’m a cubs fan and whatever is best for the team. We got a owner who wants to spend money and I’m behind that 100% and I’m behind that 100%

    • insanejackass/ Crazyhorse

      dude your funny you call me insane dumb ass Ii mocked you back shit stinker.and then i have a conversation and you respond with ….. an oath? your funny

      • Rmoody100

        What happened to being Cubs fans…

  • Chad78

    Yes I said it twice let it sink!

  • Chad78

    Whatever the cubs can do to make themselves a better team I am behind 100%

  • 5412

    Dear insane,

    I wrote books and taught the subject of negotiations for 35 years. I don’t recall saying the Cubs have no leverage; indeed I feel the opposite. They have been pushed to the wall. The suggestion I made about saying to the mayor “Don’t force me to do something neither of us want to have happen.” is mentioning the nuclear option.

    That is negotiations. The minute the politicos don’t think he is serious, it is all over. They need to fear their legacy is they will be the ones that forced the Cubs to move, property taxes crumble etc. Their tone should be the tone I conveyed. “Make nice” is where they started and it did not get them squat.

    Now they are doing Plan B, making their case logically to the public and the pressure should be on the alderman and roof top owners because they are the ones that are greedy. . In effect the message that is being conveyed, (very well in my opinion) is enough is enough, cut the crap. The tone I have conveyed is quite appropriate under the circumstances.

    BTW, the same situation happened in the negotiations with Zell. At the last minute he paid another guy to put in a higher bid. Finally Ricketts, who is generally a calm gentleman, had to say enough already, cut the crap, either we have a deal with what is on the table or I am walking……along with a lawsuit because we have a signed agreement which gives me an exclusive right to negotiate. Basically it says the negotiations are to the point where this is a fair offer, either you accept it or it is time to move on. This situation is parallel to that. Time for the city to be reasonable or the Cubs to go buy an option of several hundred acres of land in the suburbs and have it mentioned in the local papers.

    regards,
    5412

  • Die hard

    This debate assumes attendance over 32k a game as far as the eye can see and beyond. All sides appear to be doubling down on what could be a very bad bet- baseball is dropping as the national past time- investment in a soccer franchise may have been a better bet

    • Blublud

      Right, that why teams are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars per year to allow TV stations to broadcast there games. I know the MLS has grown and is growning at a pretty amazing rate, but it is no where near the level of MLB, NBA and NFL.

      • Die hard

        Not Yet-but the next generation of paying fans grew up playing soccer- all the remaining vacant diamonds will be converted to soccer fields over next ten yrs-most on this board are from the older generation who grew up on baseball- different perspectives

        • King Jeff

          MLB revenue has gone from approximately 2.5 billion in 1995 to just over 7 billion in 2012 and will go up even more when the new tv deal goes into effect. Revenue = fans, there’s not much argument to that, and MLB is not struggling in that regard. How’s MLS doing?

          • King Jeff

            Sorry, 1.5 billion in 95.

  • Blublud

    There is a lot that we can question about the Cubs, such as why haven’t we signed Bourn? Why is Campana not being given a chance? Why sign Shierholtz? Why trade for Volstad? And so and so on. We can agree to disagree on the outcome and results from these moves.

    One thing we should not disagree on is that the owner is trying to turn this team into a top notch organization. Ricketts has already spent and invested a lot of cash into this team. He is willing to lay out a lot more if the city gets out of his.

    Does he want a return on his investment?

    I’m pretty sure he does.

    Does he want to maximize that return?

    I pretty sure he does.

    So….What the hell is wrong with that. Isn’t that the purpose of running a business. There are some people on this site that have legitimate conversations, one way or another. Then there are people like Crazyhorse and several others who just make insane comments that I don’t think they believe themselves. For anyone to suggest that any business in that neighborhood keeps wrigley field full is ludicrous. Move to a new Wrigley, I willing to bet that the business will follow and that the idiots that are the rooftop owners will feel stupid. They have no leverage. They don’t even deserve what they are getting now.

    Imagine you are a Rapper. Your CD comes out and you sell a million copies. Then you find some dude was pirating your music. So instead of sueing and shutting him down, you make a deal so you can recieve 17% of his profit. This would never happen in music or any other business. Who ever in the old regime allowed this move should be shot. The rooftop owners have benefitted from stolen money long enough. I hope they are shut down for good. I would prefer they are shut down without recieving another dime, but due to the contract, if Ricketts needs to, pay off the contract and shut them down.

    Hopefully Brett can find some other business to advertise on his site. I don’t want to see him lose revenue, but I don’t want to see those clowns make another dollar.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      A) Because he’s a Boras client, likely holding to quite high demands until the last possible minute.

      B) Because he’s not very good baseball.

      C) Because he should be a useful, not terrible dominant half of a RF platoon

      D) Because we didn’t care what we got for Zambrano and thought his stuff made him worth a shot.

      All easily enough answered.

      • Blublud

        Right. And I will agree to disagree on most of these. Now what about that owner guy.

  • cubzforlife

    Little league baseball is alive and well in the far northwest side. Norridge park district turns out capable players . The high school team also competes at a decent level. The buzz this year is a 13 year old with an 70′s MPH fastball. I will admit that Michael Jordan took the bat and ball out of the inner city kids hands.

  • al

    I have always felt the rooftop business owners were glorified squatters. When building residents sat on a couple of lawn chairs it was modestly charming. Of course, in those days you could bring a gallon thermos of martinis in to the park. Things change.

  • cavemencubbie

    Wouldn’t 300 million go a long way in building a new Wrigley in the burbs? It would seem that there is a wide difference in how big Wrigley is as a tourist draw, vs cub fans who want to see cub baseball. I go to see baseball not to see an old ball park. I can see old by looking into a mirror.

    • http://Isa Voice of reason

      It cost 280mil to build the park in cincinnati where the reds play. You would have to adjust for inflation as that was a couple years back.

  • Kevin

    The Cubs are in the drivers seat, not city hall or the rooftop owners. The longer this goes on the greater the chances the Cubs move. The Ricketts are simply trying to run a smart business and I can’t blame them if they decide to relocate. Tom Tunney, should be run out of town accepting bribes from the rooftop owners. That, in itself, should void any contract the Cubs have with the Rooftop owners. This whole thing is a bunch of BS.

    • http://Isa Voice of reason

      You’re right, kevin. The longer this takes the greater the chance the cubs move.

      Ricketts have the upper hand here, not the city.

      The family is waiting to see what the clowns at city hall do and biting their tongues. If the ricketts don’t get what they want then they can say it’s the cities fault and threaten to leave and possibly leave!

      The ricketts are handling it properly, but what they could do is say this is what we want and if we don’t get it we leave. The city needs the cubs more than the cubs need the city. If the cubs move the city would take a hit financially in many ways including the drastic property value drop in wrigley ills.

      And, it would be nice for the rickets to say to people in the area that were leaving! Screw you people who didn’t want more night games and other things we asked for! Good luck with the area and the property values!

      And, to the rooftop owners I would say no thanks to the offer of 50/50 revenue split on signs. I would then hold a meeting with them and say we want 70 percent of rooftop revenue and 80 percent of signage revenue. And, if you don’t do it then we will block the views. Take it or leave it!

  • Martin

    There is such an echo chamber in here; people need to understand that most fans do not think like people who spend time daily on a Cubs blog. Of course those of you advocating for a move want nothing more than to see the Cubs win and don’t care if they burn Wrigley down to do it: you are fans of the team first and the team only. But what it seems like people here don’t understand is that 80% of the Cubs fans don’t think like you do. It’s not that they like Wrigley more than the Cubs, it’s that they’re not as emotionally invested in the success of the team as are people who spend their time on this site. If the Cubs were in the suburbs, the types of people who would still go would be the types of people on this site; however, there just aren’t that many of you relative to the 3 million people who go to Cubs games each year. (Check and see how many people even know about the rooftops proposal and the Cubs response yesterday: I bet you find that most people, even Cubs fans, don’t even know it happened)

    So Ricketts has to deal with the reality of his fanbase’s needs–that he needs Wrigley Field as much as Wrigley Field needs him. Wrigley Field, for good and for bad, is a big part of the marketing strategy of the Cubs–hell, they built the ENTIRE Cubs convention around it this year–and without it, they lose a large revenue stream, as millions of people over the course of the coming years would be less likely to go see the Cubs just to see the Cubs (no one here, of course, but you all don’t represent the majority of Cubs’ fans). Those of you making the “move” argument need to accept the fact that a huge plurality of Cubs fans are not diehard fans, will not move heaven and earth to see the team regardless of their success, and yes, do go to see Cubs games in large part because of the stadium environment.

    Once again, the reality of the situation is this: The Cubs aren’t moving. The Cubs can’t move. The Cubs would lose a lot of money if they did move. And unless you’re willing to subsidize the team by making up for the millions they’d lose by moving to the suburbs, that’s the way it’s going to be.

    (Just to be clear, the Cubs ARE going to get whatever they want from the rooftop owners. The owners have literally zero leverage other than the contract they signed. They’re barely scraping by anyway, as some of the buildings have gone into foreclosure in the last year. The Cubs can just wait for them to go into bankruptcy, buy them out for pennies on the dollar, and do whatever it is they had planned. This whole rooftop thing is not even worth getting annoyed about.)

    • Mick

      Obviously the Cubs will never move out of Wrigley and anyone suggesting they even threaten the move is either being irrational or ignorant. Also, how hypocritical can one person be in Tunney. Here’s the representative for the Wrigleyville neighborhood lobbying for rooftop bleachers and gaudy signage for the buildings along Sheffield and Waveland but yet crying about any cosmetic changes the Cubs make inside Wrigley. The proposed changes the Cubs made inside the stadium in fact help preserve and enhance the classic appearance to Wrigley whereas the rooftop committee’s proposal to add signage to the buildings and rooftops diminish the classic appeal to the neighborhood. They’re basically turning their “neighborhood” into Times Square while crying foul on the Cubs.

  • Kevin

    A state of the art stadium, outside of Cook County, no amusement tax, and no crazy political restrictions followed by a WS win and true Cub fans would care less about the place they once played and never won. It’s time to look forward and stop looking in the rear view mirror. A new stadium could look similar to wrigley but on a much larger footprint. I love the Cubs but hate Chicago politics. Build new and never look back.

    • Martin

      Harsh reality: The “True Cubs Fans” make up less than 20% of the fanbase. Unless they plan to subsidize the other 80%, it ain’t happening.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    I agree with this. Put a winner on the field and they will come, even if it is in the suburbs. Nobody went to the Bulls games until Jordan came to town but once they started winning they doubled ticket prices, got a new stadium and TV revenue skyrocketed.

    Winning will solve a lot of the problems.

    regards,
    5412

    • Martin

      They don’t have to put a winner on the field at Wrigley at they have 3 million people show up at the door. They’re not going to give that safety net up to solve a minor quibble with a bunch of rooftop owners.

      • Scotti

        The Cubs finished under 3 million in paid attendance last year (under 2.9) and WELL under 3 million in real attendance. The hundreds of thousands who didn’t show up didn’t buy beer, dogs, t-shirts, stop at he Cubs’ restaurants and affected the clubs ad buys via WGN (TV, Radio), CLTV, etc. And those less-than-stellar figures were buoyed by the signing of Theo last off-season (at the time the Lose For Five-Year Plan wasn’t known and the Cubs certainly didn’t squash rumors that they were interested in signing Pujols, Fielder, etc.).

        The Cubs will finish well south of those marks this year unless they win some games.

        • Martin

          You missed my point: the cubs sold almost 3 million tickets last year despite losing 100 games. They were top ten in MLB despite losing 100 games. Wrigkey provides a safety net only 1-2 other teams have. Of course their attendance will go down (slightly) if they’re terrible. However, their attendance is not nearly as tied to succes as is other teams’.

          • Scotti

            Is the Cub attendance as connected to the team’s winning as, say, the Pirates? No. Do the Cubs have FAR more at stake then, say, the Pirates? Yes. The revenue generated by 300k fewer PAID attendance for the Cubs is more than what the entire Pirate franchise makes in a typical (losing) Pirate year.

            Regardless, I didn’t miss your point–I corrected it. Cub attendance will not go down “slightly” if the Cubs continue to lose. It will go down drastically. And so will the price of the average ticket, beer and concession revenue and ad buys (DRASTICALLY).

            Ticket sales are always linked to the PRIOR season and/or off-season (Wrigley attendance was higher in ’04 than ’03). The reason the Cubs lost 91 games in 2011 and still had 2.8 paid last year was because Theo and team sold promise during the off-season (with strong media speculation to top free agents). This off-season folks know that Theo and team don’t really mind losing and have signed a few journeymen.

            Capacity at Wrigley is 41,159 (3,333,879 on the season). This does not include the rooftops. A top draw season at Wrigley pulls in 99%. That means last season was 450,000 shy of a good Cub draw season. Those tickets sell for, on average, $50. Lost gate alone is $22.5 million. That doesn’t include the fact that ticket prices would have been going UP if Wrigley had been 95-99% capacity. That lost POTENTIAL revenue is on EACH ticket. Say conservatively $5 each ticket = another $15 million lost. That’s $37.5 million lost in gate in one season alone. And gate has negative costs to it (when you have more people you add a few low wage ticket takers and clean up crew but when you have fewer people you need to advertise–far more costly) so gate is 100% pure profit.

            Again, those 450k people who didn’t buy a ticket and the 200k who never bothered to show up (a very, very, very conservative number–just 5k per game for the second half of the season–more likely 300-400k) despite having paid for a ticket (and couldn’t even resell them for 5-10 bucks) means 650k empty seats who aren’t buying beer or pop or hot dogs or nachos or t-shits, etc. at goofy prices. It also means that those vendors can’t raise their prices and must give deals to empty their inventory. Another loss, say about $10 million profit on the 650k and $2.5 million additional (these are very conservative figures with very low profit margins). $50 million total loss in one year and you haven’t even factored ad buys (in Wrigley and on WGN TV and Radio and CLTV, etc.).

            What I know of Cub ad revenue from media sources over the years is that it is directly tied to viewership. Meaning the Cubs don’t have cushy deals where it doesn’t matter if folks aren’t watching the programs like it won’t for the Dodgers. The Cub deals are directly linked to ad sales. If folks watch/listen to fewer games then the Cubs feel the pinch just like the station does. There is no way of knowing exactly what the Cubs have lost in ad revenue but, with the deals that have been locked in recently, you can bet it equals at least what they are losing in gate/concessions. For a well run club ad revenue is its top driver (see how quickly the Cubs turned down an offer for $10-20 million from the rooftops).

            So a “safety net” that loses $100,000,000 is really a safety net that doesn’t really matter–you’re still losing $100,000,000 per year. WINNING at Wrigley fills that place. Losing means they are middle ground in draw. Losing long term means they are just north of some really crappy teams. Not much of a safety net.

            • caryatid62

              And you’re still missing the point, or are simply underestimating it.

              All of your numbers could be right–the pedantic economics lesson notwithstanding–and it doesn’t negate anything about my post. The Cubs have estimated that roughly 1/3 of it’s attendance EACH SEASON (i.e. regardless of the total attendance) comes from out of town. Those people wouldn’t be coming to Schaumburg. So how would all of your numbers look if instead of 2.8 million this year, the Cubs drew 1.8 million? The dominos you cite (ad revenue, tv buys, etc.) would fall in the same manner, but by greater percentages.

              The safety net doesn’t lose them $100,000,000–it saves them from losing $200,000,000.

              Winning is a variable that is, over the long term, unreliable. OF COURSE winning teams draw more than losing teams and OF COURSE the amount of money lost by no shows makes it worse, and OF COURSE there’s an additional impact because of their mediocre TV deal. However, the Cubs have been over MLB average for attendance every year since 1988, save one. From 1990-1997, they had one winning season, yet were above MLB average every year. The same from 1999-2002, where they had no winning years. The numbers dropped when they were bad, but not by nearly as much as they would if they didn’t have Wrigley Field, which was the entire point in the first place. This is a real safety net that wouldn’t exist at another part, and if you can’t see that, you’re willfully ignoring the point.

              If the Cubs moved, the fate of their finances would be entirely dependent upon their win-loss record–there’s no reason for the Cubs to take that risk. You can argue about the relative size of the safety net all you want, but it’s real, and it’s a reason why the Cubs aren’t going to, and can’t, move.

              • Scotti

                Several issues here with your take on this… First, the notion that the Cubs “can’t” move because the team can lose and still make more money than the dregs of MLB doesn’t, IMO, really appreciate the type of ownership the team currently has. Having an owner like the Trib (or worse, Zell) that had no intention of becoming the best team in the NL year in, year out (and zero interest in making large, long term investments into the team infrastructure) would make that assumption valid.

                That, however, is not my take on the Ricketts family. They have already plunked down millions in a long term investment in the DR and many millions more in Mesa. This owner is interested in capitalizing maximum return. At that point the “safety net” becomes irrelevant. Will there be “off years” in terms of winning? Of course. But teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, etc. have good attendance years when they have the odd poor win season because they are generally good teams with winning reputations. The Red Sox drew well last year despite a poor record. The Cardinals out drew the Cubs in ’08 despite finishing 11.5 games out of it. Good teams CREATE their own “safety net” by having winning reputations and giving their fanbase something to look forward to.

                Second, the notion that because the Cubs draw 1/3 of their attendance from out of town somehow means that “Those people wouldn’t be coming to Schaumburg” completely misses the fact that those people travel great distances to see the CUBS. That was the POINT the team was making when they released that fact–those visitors wouldn’t be coming to Chicago without the Cubs! The CUBS are the third largest draw in Illinois and, arguably, the largest since folks coming to see the Cubs are most often actually coming to see the Cubs while the other two attractions (Navy Pier and Millenium Park) are attractions that people most often go to when they already have plans to visit Chicago. The idea that the Cubs would lose every single one of those out of town fans is ludicrous and doesn’t do your argument any good (somehow even “hyperbole” doesn’t quite fit that stretch). Schaumburg is FAR (times infinity) more accessible from O’Hair than Wrigley is. Unless you’re taking the bus/El, Schaumburg is more accessible than Wrigley from most places IN THE CITY.

                A ballpark in Schaumburg would have PARKING which not only generates revenue but makes the planning for a trip from the burbs (or Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, etc.) that much more doable (as a suburbanite myself I’d gladly pay double the ticket price for a Cub ticket if I could drive my own damn car and not get it towed away in the process–even when parking in a legit parking spot(!!!)). Build a great park in Schaumburg and Cub fans would flock to it from around the country.

                Regarding what a “winning year” is… I think it should be self explanatory but you seem to regard a winning year as a playoff year–two different birds. I think a general accepted definition of a winning year is, of course, a year where you win more than lose. A contending year is where you contend for the playoffs. Regardless, your argument works if you think the new ownership plans to accept not contending. While they have bought into Theo’s “lose now” plan, I don’t see them accepting this for long (it just doesn’t make fiduciary sense). Once the park and its amenities (and Mesa, DR, etc.) are in place I don’t see them accepting losing at all. And why should they? Losing doesn’t make money anywhere near like winning does. So, again, the “safety net” is moot. Winning large and consistently is all the safety net that StL, BOS and NYY need. That should be good enough for the Cubs.

                “If the Cubs moved, the fate of their finances would be entirely dependent upon their win-loss record–there’s no reason for the Cubs to take that risk”

                My prior “pedantic” excursion included only the money lost by losing–not the money lost by the City not allowing the Cubs to operate like ALL other major franchises in the US. Nor did it include losses that are inherent in operating at Wrigley even if they are allowed to fix it up.

                The Ballpark in Arlington has office space available for lease. Toronto has a freaking hotel IN the park. Many parks have removable roofs (that is something that the landmark status actual covers). Just that feature alone would not only save lost revenue for rainouts (and/or forced double headers) but, even more importantly, make April and May games bearable (Cubs lose attendance during those months). With a retractable roof, the Cubs could also hold events (concerts, conventions, etc.) YEAR ROUND at Wrigley West. Unlike Chicago/Wrigleyville, the city of Schaumburg would BEG for the Cubs to have MORE events–40-50 of them wouldn’t be too many.

                Adding 4-5k seats, or so, would also be a huge boon that the current Wrigley just can’t replicate (even with the team fixing it up). For those who want history the entire scoreboard, dimensions, brick and ivy, marquee, etc. can be rebuilt (landmark status means the originals will be staying in Chicago). You could even build a pseudo rooftop section across from some permanently closed-off walkways (Sheffield and Addison West). At Wrigley West they could sell the naming rights for $40-50 million a year). All at a place with more restrooms, concessions, restaurants, etc. than you can shake a stick at.

                In short, even a fixed up Wrigley would COST the Cubs millions upon millions every year vs. a good, new ballpark with a good, convenient location. Does the current Wrigley have a “safety net” effect? Yes, but only for a losing team. For teams with winning reputations, well, they also have that same “safety net” when they lose for a season or two. That is because having a winning reputation is worth every penny of having a classic stadium.

                So, would the Cubs HAVE to win regularly? Yes. Somehow I’m good with that. Given the risk/reward, I’m quite certain the Ricketts family is as well.

                • caryatid62

                  I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree that people would come see the Cubs just to see the Cubs. They’re coming for the experience, not just the team. And Wrigley Field, in the mind of a tourist, is part of that experience (regardless of what fans of the team might think about the ballpark). Without Wrigley Field, the Cubs will lose a huge chunk of the out of town fanbase, and regardless of how they try to make up the revenue, it’s not going to be there unless they win. And they’re not going to win consistently over generations–no team does.

                  I’m not sure why you think that I equated “winning” with “playoffs.” I simply used seasons over .500 as “winning.”

                  You can make the argument that “winning reputation is as valuable as a classic stadium,” but I’m just not going to agree with you, mostly due to the inherent year-over-year costs (including both facilities and human resources) associated with maintaining a winning reputation, subject to the variations of record that are possible, versus the relatively predictable costs of maintaining a classic stadium.

                  Ultimately, you can make any argument you want (most of which I highly disagree with), the reality is that the Cubs aren’t moving to the suburbs. Not now, not likely ever. Arguing hypothetical economic realities isn’t really worth the time.

        • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

          All valid points. The cubs might have sold 2.8m tickets but only about 2.4 actually showed up. The ancillary revenue that was lost was huge. If the tourists ever stop coming then they’ll start closing the upper deck a lot more often than back in the seventies.

  • Barroof

    I don’t care what Casey Stengel thinks. Why are you annoyed with the rooftop owners ? You should be annoyed that the Cubs haven’t won in over 100 years. I doubt you’ve ever been invited to a rooftop. I’m so tired of all these people that think 100% of the people that go to a baseball game at Wrigley are actually there to watch the Cubs. Get over it.

  • Barroof

    Hey Casey Stengel, I have one more for you…. You talk about stealing, will you admit right here on BN that you have NEVER sold one of your season tickets for a profit ? That’s called scalping and is a no no. Arrest that man !!!

  • dash

    Watching the baseball game is nice, but the best part of the Wrigley Experience for me is sitting under the concrete-catching nets. I hope it stays that way forever and ever.

    • DarthHater

      You left out feeding beer to the rats…

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