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1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWYesterday, the Chicago Cubs sent a message to season ticket holders yesterday regarding the Wrigley Field renovation plans (and BN’er Dave was good enough to pass it along to me – gracias), as the organization starts selling all constituencies on the twin ideas of a preserved/improved Wrigley Field, and the Cubs’ freedom to generate the revenue necessary to pull off that preservation/improvement.

The notable pieces from the body of the message (emphasis mine), which comes from VP of Ticket Sales and Service Colin Faulkner:

There has been quite a bit of media coverage this week about the remarkable proposal being considered by the Cubs and the Ricketts family to help restore Wrigley Field. The project we are sharing is based on creative ideas for how to improve the ballpark, input from tens of thousands of fans and neighbors and research to preserve the historic features fans cherish.

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to discuss these plans with the City and our community, as we work through designs and ask for help to allow signage in the outfield, flexibility regarding concerts, night events and other issues. But with this help, no tax dollars are needed for this project. We remain the only major professional sports team in Chicago with no public funding and the only Major League Baseball ballpark in the country to get no financial support from its home city, while contributing more than $14 million in amusement taxes annually ….

Separately, the Ricketts family is also considering an investment outside Wrigley Field. For many years, we have discussed a vision for an open space plaza, office building and retail on our triangular-shaped piece of land just west of Wrigley Field. The Ricketts family has signed an agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resorts to develop a boutique hotel on the land currently housing a McDonald’s restaurant on Clark Street. The community has expressed a desire for a hotel in the area and we look forward to working with Alderman Tunney, our neighbors and the Ricketts family as the design and plan develop.

The hotel is a critical part of a more-than-$500 million plan to reinvest in Wrigley Field and the neighborhood. The Ricketts family is working to create 800 construction jobs and 1,300 full-time jobs, preserve Wrigley Field as one of the top three tourist destinations in the state and grow the ballpark’s $650 million annual economic impact to Chicago and the region.

Inside the ballpark, we hope to begin construction following the 2013 baseball season. We plan to build in the offseason, without leaving Wrigley Field or impacting the neighborhood businesses that have come to rely on the baseball season. It will take approximately five offseasons to complete the project. We’re sure you have lots of questions as to how these changes will benefit you. As plans develop, we will keep you informed along the way ….

 

Always a good idea to make sure you’ve got the full support of the season ticket holders. The Cubs made sure – in my emphasized portions above – to underscore their selling points on the revised funding plan: (1) we’ll take no public money (even though every other team in Chicago gets public money, and even though every other MLB ballpark gets some kind of financial support when it is contributing taxes to the city); (2) we’ll build other cool and helpful stuff if folks hook us up on the revenue-generation side; and (3) if the neighborhood lets us do our thing, we won’t pull the games out of the neighborhood for parts of the next few seasons.

Speaking of the revenue-generation plan, we know broadly what the Cubs are looking for, and Faulkner said as much in the message above: “allow signage in the outfield, flexibility regarding concerts, night events and other issues,” with one of the biggest “other issues” being the ability to run street fairs around Wrigley. But we don’t know some of the specifics. What kind of signage? Where? How many more night games? How many more concerts?

Well, on the latter two questions, the Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev reports that the Cubs are looking to increase their allowable night game total from 30 to 41, presumably with many of the added night games coming on the weekend. Sachdev adds that the Cubs would like to increase their allowable concert total to more than the currently-permitted three, but the particulars aren’t yet know. Various neighborhood groups are reportedly willing to up that total to four.

For their part, the Cubs hope to have the night game portion of the funding plan resolved within the next month, so that time changes can be incorporated into the 2013 schedule. At 41 games, the Cubs would play half of their home schedule during the day, and half at night.

  • cjdubbya

    Does the 3:05pm start time on Fridays count toward the “night game” total, since it’s possible they’d have to turn on the lights near the end of the game, particularly near the start and end of the season?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good question, because I know the Friday start time thing has been a real pickle (currently limited to 1:20 starts, only, right?). I would think the Cubs would want to do actual night games on Fridays.

  • http://VerizonWireless Larry

    I support the Ricketts plan. Seem like the city should bend over backwards to help.

  • http://VerizonWireless Larry

    No way!!

  • Korean Goat

    I strongly ask for more night games. I used to have to wake up at 3:00AM to watch day games hahaha. the more night games the better daylife to me.

  • baseballet

    According to the video that accompanies Sachdev’s article, the advertising signs are worth 10 – 20 million in new revenue. That’s chicken feed compared to the new TV deal that the Cubs will get in a few year. $10-20M does not affect the Cubs’ ability to compete with the Yankees or the Dodgers. It does however affect the atmosphere at Wrigley in exchange for a paltry annual sum.

    • Ron

      10-20 million is one more Edwin Jackson per year.

      “But with this help, no tax dollars are needed for this project. We remain the only major professional sports team in Chicago with no public funding and the only Major League Baseball ballpark in the country to get no financial support from its home city, while contributing more than $14 million in amusement taxes annually ….”

      I was wondering about this yesterday. This really puts the Cubs at a real disadventage compared to the other teams especially when you consider the impact of just the advertising above and attach those dollars to a player. Just those two things, the advertising and NOT getting city help that every other team gets costs the Cubs around 30 mil/year. That is two free agents that Kyle has been screaming for!

      • hansman1982

        Agree, at some point we have to decide if we want the Cubs to be a successful organization or some traveling old-timey team.

        I have seen a lot of arguments throughout the past month:
        1. The Cubs need to spend more to win
        2. Advertising should be kept to a minimum within the stadium because it’s only small potatoes compared to a TV contract
        3. The Cubs couldn’t get a giant TV contract because they suck
        4. The Cubs should not receive govt money to renovate a top tourist attraction in the state and a historic landmark because they are a private organization
        5. The Ricketts knew what they were getting into when they bought the stadium
        6. We have to be lazer focused on the community when considering these upgrades to the stadium so as to not impede upon them
        7. Advertising should be kept to a minimum within the stadium because it’s only small potatoes
        8. A jumbotron shouldn’t be used because it detracts from the stadium and atmosphere that draws so many fans
        9. The Cubs should just build a new stadium
        10. The Cubs couldn’t build a new stadium because Wrigley is the reason so many fans come
        11. The Cubs have no significant impact on the surrounding community because it steals so many entertainment dollars from other businesses

        Basically…the Ricketts are so incredibly wealthy that they should run the Cubs as a charity (neither charging high ticket prices NOR selling ads within the stadium) because the community had no idea that buying property next to a baseball stadium would entail loud crowds, late games or bright lights. Furthermore, the City, State and local community should NOT contribute to ensuring that this organization that draws hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of folks into the area that would not ordinarily be there because the Ricketts are so rich and knew what they were getting into.

        Wrigley should not be allowed any sort of enhancements to revenue streams because it is a quaint old park and this money would not possibly help the team have more success. Even if it would, I would rather watch a team that is economically disadvantaged every year in a quait old park than see a few advertisements that would help the team win each year.

        (eyeroll) Remember when the Under Armour ads were a GIANT deal?

        • itzscott

          hansman1982 ….

          Do you think a very profitable, self-sustaining business needs/deserves city or state funding when there’s no indication that they’ll go belly up without that assistance and everything indicates they can fund their own expansion plans?

          • King Jeff

            There is a difference between going belly up and being able to compete financially with the other big-market teams in baseball. Their tv deal is now a joke, the stadium is falling apart, and the team is restricted on when they can play games, how much advertising they can use, and they pay a higher amusement tax than anyone else in the league with no financial support from the city(which is unique in MLB). The Cubs can continue to be a mediocre tourist attraction, or they can get a couple of breaks from the city, and put the team where it should be, revenue wise.

            • hansman1982

              Agree, I think my test-taking analogy is sound here. I’d even add that the parents of the student are in agreement with the teacher and then wonder why their student doesn’t receive the highest marks in the class.

          • hansman1982

            I think they should, partially because the Bulls, Bears and White Sox received funding (equitable treatment and all). It’d be like having Microsoft, Apple and Google headquarters in your town, giving Microsoft and Apple incentives to come in, to build, etc… and then telling Google to jump in the river.

            Additionally, if the Cubs are one of the top tourist attractions in the state, then funds should be allocated no differently than to the downtown park with the shiney bean.

            The Cubs are most assuredly NOT a revenue negative to the city (especially compared to what else could go in that spot (doubly so if you were to raise Wrigley Field and put in a block of housing)) and a portion of this revenue comes from outside of the city and state with a minimal amount of “it would have been spent somewhere else”.

            Funding from the City and State would not have been a direct expendature but rather paid by the Cubs up front (immediate economic stimulus) by tax dollars generated by the Cubs. The City would have not seen a dime of reduction in the amount of money coming in, nor would they have spent a dime while the Ricketts would have spent a lot of money on top of amounts they could collect back from the amusement tax.

            However, since the Ricketts backed down from the money now the neighborhood should be working dilligently with the Cubs to make this happen, in effect, they will be reaping rewards for absolutely no cost. The little guy coming out ahead because the rich are spending money.

            It is actually very ludicrous that the City didn’t come out and immediately do cartwheels for the Cubs within the community once they wouldn’t even give them $55M (I would LOVE for someone to prove that over the next 20 years the Cubs aren’t worth at least that much to the City). I would fully expect the City, at this point, would relinquish any claim of historical significance on Wrigley thereby ending the restrictions within Wrigley, i.e. if the Ricketts wants to remove the Ivy from the wall, tear down the scoreboard and marquee, the City won’t say a peep.

          • Kevin

            “Do you think a very profitable, self-sustaining business needs/deserves city or state funding when there’s no indication that they’ll go belly up without that assistance and everything indicates they can fund their own expansion plans?”

            The answer is NO but so is the answer to the question “Should Cubs tickets be subject to the 12% Amusement tax?”

            • Pat

              They are hardly the only entity in the city subject to the amusement tax.

              • Kevin

                and that makes it right?

                • Pat

                  It makes it the cost of doing business in a major market. I’m sure they could get Ohama to give them a great deal, but that doesn’t have the advantages they have here as far as market size and ability to charge much more for tickets than they could in a smaller market.

                  • Pat

                    Omaha

                • Crazyhorse

                  its how the City pays off debt that are associated with Amusement Activities the little things like paying off bonds so other monies can not be diverted for programs like police, funds for repairing and maintaining roads. so yes it make it right

          • hansman1982

            Let’s put it another way, let’s put it into the house context that has been debated before.

            If the City were to hand out grants to your neighbors so they could build nicer homes than you have for a fraction of the cost and not restrict what they do with those homes and then when you asked for only a portion of the building costs but the City said no, and here is all kinds of things you can’t do…how would you react?

            Oh, and your neighbors pay a fraction of the taxes to the city that you do, as well.

            • Crazyhorse

              Actually something like that has that has happen, When O “Hare expanded a decade or so . in order to make the citizens vote for the expansion. The City or O”hare would improve the homes in the surrounding communities with grants that paid for sound proofing and install central air devices . A home owner needed to go through hoops to be approved.and if homeowners already had these thing – they did not reinbursed homeowner – also certain homeowners were required to sell off the property it was mess . and not everybody was happy.

              But comparing an AIrport to an entertainment venue is not the same.

          • Kevin B

            Well Itszscott;

            Wake up. Ricketts is offering to fund the expansion plan!! NO TAX DOLLARS, no one is asking for tax dollars. They are just asking to be allowed to run their business so they can be profitable and successful.

            God …. I just don’t get how you do not see the point. The better question is should the City be allowed to invest nothing (no one is asking them to) and gouge/steal 12% of the ticket revenue (amusement tax) from a private business and legislating that the private business that is willing to fund the expansion with no tax dollars should be restricted on how they can raise revenue in the park that they OWN.

            You are missing out on the entire point!

    • hansman1982

      $10M here, $10M there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

      • baseballet

        A Jumbotron here, a LED board there, pretty soon you’re talking about a real eyesore.

        • hansman1982

          Like the lights were? Like the Under Armour and Toyota sign advertisements? Like the ribbon boards around the stadium?

          How about the bleacher seats they added a few decades ago?

        • http://Isa Voice of reason

          I get sick of people saying that you can’t put this or that in wrigley cause of the tradition of the ball park and it will be an eyesore.

          The tradition is the cubs haven’t won a world series since they’ve been there. The team that plays there is known as the lovable losers.

          In terms of a jumbotron being an eyesore… Wrigley is a dump! It’s falling a part. A jumbotron would actually make the park look newer. Its stuck in the 50’s and 60’s

        • Kevin B

          A jumbotron is an eyesore? Really ……. Its an eyesore ….. that is what you are arguing huh ……….

  • Glen

    Heck, 10 Mil alone is good money……it is almost 2 Starlin Castro’s this season……

  • hansman1982

    Let’s see how this analogy looks:

    The Cubs are the puppy and the little girl is the industrial revolution…

    What the City and many fans have done to the Cubs is no different than a professor allowing every other student in the class the opportunity to have an open book, notes and cheat sheet test, while restricting the Cubs to only their brains and what they studied the night before.

    The Cubs then came out and said “That’s fine, we will play ball that way, we just want some additional time to take the test and a more lienient grading scale.” To which the reply was “Nuts”.

  • Chris D.

    As a season ticket holder I’m glad that all these changes might be coming. The City makes so much money from the Cubs. They should pay for everything.

  • Pat

    “the only Major League Baseball ballpark in the country to get no financial support from its home city”

    Did Pac Bell fall into the bay and I missed it?

    • King Jeff

      You have a point, but the city also relaxed a bunch of regulations to allow them to build the stadium, and what do you know, they also got extended tax breaks from the city. Go figure.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I also believe you are misreading that sentence – both clauses are read together (no financial support AND pay the tax). Probably could have been worded more clearly.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    If indeed they are asking for no public investment, the restrictions are insane. The neighbors are duplicitous, want it both ways and want to control the business operations. Sorry, in the modern world, it simply doesn’t work this way. Most receive public financing. I hope, that Ricketts takes a hard line and if the neighbors choose to use the political tools as leverage and dig in, the time has arrived to abandon this dump.

    Clearly, only the lunatic fringe and hacks seeking leverage and to line their pockets would argue with an owner willing to finance stadium upgrades and only ask for removal of archaic restrictions.

    Ask yourself, do the St. Louis Cardinals have to put up with any of this ridiculous behavior from little demagogues? Clearly the city of Chicago is putting the organization at a severe competitive advantage if they screw this offer up.

  • Kevin

    So Reinsdoft and the White Sox benefit from Cubs ticket sales………………………..what a crock of crap!

    • King Jeff

      It’s true! Cub’s pay high taxes, the Sox get taxpayer money to build a stadium and a restaurant that nobody goes to. (Obligatory Sox cheapshot!)

      • Kevin B

        Jeff what you said is so obvious I cannot believe you actually have to say it.

  • Rob

    I fail to see why so many people have such a problem with what the Ricketts are proposing. Everytime a rich businessman or group receives public funding to build a new stadium or renovate an old one, that is taxpayer money being used to increase the current and future net worth of someone who is already rich, by enhancing their PRIVATE business. The fact that this occurs with such regularity, to me, is shocking, I and have read/heard plenty of people complain about it over the years.

    Yet, an owner has now come out and said – unlike every other team in this city, and many other cities, keep your damn money – just let us run our business like the private business it is. I applaud this approach. It is in Ricketts own best interest to do a good job renovating the ballpark, keeping iconic items (red marquee, ivy, etc.) in place, and to do a good job with the surrounding neighborhood.

    I do not understand – would you rather have an owner that said they were going to let concrete crumble and the ballpark falter unless the broke city they inhabit gives them free money from common tax payers? Is that what the people that are against this would really prefer?

    • Crazyhorse

      The Stadium is in residential area , zoning laws are required and in place. The people in that area also have an input and to dismiss them entirely is wrong.. I am sure a compromise can be done. Ricketts need his propaganda because he has no leverage .
      When light were installed i seem to recall the Cubs statement that the amount of night games was sufficent . Now many years later with a new owner . He wants to change those agreements . Trust me if the Ricketts family could change them they would. They can not without authority of the city and district/ward. The Tribune Company tried once to back door the zoning laws a decade or so and in retalation the city smacked the Wrigley Field historical maker .

      Yes in most instances , an owner has the right to do fit with his company. but zoning laws is not a right,

      When Ricketts bought the Cubs he knew that a residential area was less than 500 feet from his back door . HE knew the history of the Cubs and Community. His only Trump Card is to pay everything himself or try and sway public opinion .

      Hopefully he will not forget that the district citizens also has say in what happen in the community and his propaganda ,is not that message and rightfully so. He wants to protects his product and out sourcing his product to China i mean the SUbs or other host city – Well that hiis right. Bye or compromise or win the war on propaganda and get want you want.

      I am anxious to see what actually happens when the dust settles.

      • King Jeff

        The stadium is in an area where the zoning laws are residential, yet the rooftop owners come out and claim to be “independently owned businesses”.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        No leverage? He could move his team out of there. Then what does the neighborhood have? They both have leverage or the “neighborhood” would have come out and laughed at him already. I am sure plenty of other areas would work with the Cubs to put a stadium if they won’t work with them. Propaganda? He is looking for a way to fix the stadium that is beat to hell. There aren’t many ways of doing it. How many owners do you know have paid the amount of money without city or state funding that he is getting ready to? This is a win/win and a way to let him run his business. I don’t get how someone could think anything different. No other team runs their organization the way the Cubs have to. He isn’t asking for full authority of this. He wants to have half of the teams games at night and run more concerts for money. This will make negotiations for the TV deal easier.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          He won’t move the team.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            No he won’t, but the threat is there. If anyone doesn’t think the possibility of him moving the team to another location within Chicago is impossible, you should take a look at the Yankeese. There’s was money motivated, but lets be real, so is this. He is running a business too. If he is going to foot the cost, I see no problem with him trying to make money either.

      • Kevin B

        Crazy you must be the typical bleeding heart liberal huh? Big bad Ricketts came in and spent $860 million or so to buy a team ….. but the team was in the neighborhood …. so Ricketts needs neighborhood permission to do anything?

        Well …… everyone in the neighborhood ….. bought into the neighborhood ….. with a baseball stadium right there …… there is not ONE PERSON in that neighborhood who was there before Wrigley Field.

        The Cubs/Wrigley are the reason they have nice property values and a thriving neighborhood …… but big bad Ricketts comes in, asks for no tax dollars, offers to fund the $300 MILLION dollars to renovate THEIR BUSINESS themselves and add millions in improvements (hotel etc) in the neighborhood, create huge tax revenues to the City (that they funnel to the White Sox, Bulls, Hawks, Bears in handouts), create 2,000 permanent jobs, almost 1000 construction jobs, and every bar in business there makes a living DUE TO THE CUBS including the Rooftop Owners – and Cubs create $650 million economically to the City/State, ….. but yeah ….. they are the bad guys …….

        You know something its people like you that actually make me almost want the Ricketts to move to the suburbs … then the big bad bully will be gone and the neighborhood will be saved …. right …. and property values plummet ….. $650 million economic hit to the City and State, no more 12% contribution (Street Tax – Blood money to the City) so no more handout to the White Sox ….. the neighborhood will go to hell and in 10-20 years all these people you think need to be included in running the Cubs will no longer be living there as the neighborhood goes back to the dump it was in the 70’s.

        yeah … you are a democrat for sure!

  • North Side Irish

    The rooftop owners press conference is going on now…starting release details of their plan to add signage without blocking their views…

    Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs
    Rooftop renderings of how more advertising could/would work http://lockerz.com/s/279305378

    Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs
    http://lockerz.com/s/279305407

    • King Jeff

      I wonder if we could get a design with a giant upper deck over the bleachers blocking every bit of their view? What? It’s not advertising, so they shouldn’t have a problem.

    • Ron

      I just love this. We own a restauraunt in Nashville and love it when people come up and tell us how to run our business. I know they are looking out for their own interest but the are stealing the cubs product. the people that are effected by blackouts in Chicago should hate these guys.

      • hansman1982

        How would you like it if I set up a restaurant next door to yours that sold your food and the only thing I did was pay you below par for that food?

        I’ll just say this, I despise the rooftop owners.

    • hansman1982

      Is it just me or do those look like some incredibly cheap renderings? Like, one of the owners has a free version of Photoshop and just stole the logos from the companies’ websites.

  • Steve Browne

    This is a brilliant move by the Ricketts family! I have no doubt they have done the math and realize in the long run, eliminating the amusement tax will make them more than the $500 million they will need to pay to renovate the stadium and surrounding area. This is a smart decision by a smart businessman. On the flip side you have a pedictable politician in Rob Emmanuel who is trying to look good by not raising taxes right now. Bottom line is the tax payers will pay eventually as the city will no longer be collecting an amusement tax from the Cubs. But since I don’t live in the city and I have season tickets to the Cubs, I’m all for anything that will help the Cubs in the long run!

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I don’t live there, so my opinion is skewed. But, don’t the citizens of the area get more than the average Chicago citizen because of Wrigley Field? More police, higher value property, etc… There are always negatives to the positives. But, if the Cubs didn’t play there they would be a normal area. Lets be real. Most of the people living close to Wrigley were interested in that area. They aren’t just living there, and the Cubs moved in. Both should work together, but in no way is 41 night games unreasonable. I would think the day games would be more difficult than the night games. If you get off at 4 or 5, you have to deal with that traffice every day. If the games started at 6 or 7, then they wouldn’t be a distraction, until you are going to bed. That would obviously be a pain. Hopefully they work together to make this happen. I think we can all agree, over the last 20-30 years Wrigley has went downhill fast. In what world has an owner ever said he will cover the cost if he is allowed to run his business while working with the neighborhood whose value is increased due to them being there?

    • Rmoody100

      I would imagine that traffic isn’t that big of an issue since after a game there are at least 40,000 people trying to leave the area after the game no matter what time it is. It is more a matter of schedule. If you get off of work after a night game and then have to turn around and play a day game the next day that is hard on a players body. Getting home at 11 o’clock after a game and then having a 1:20 start the next day is hardly fair to a player who has to show up to play 162 games a season.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    remember on thing boys and girls,the ballpark was there long before the yuppies were.if they tell ricketts no please move the team to the suburbs and see how the neighborhood likes that!

  • Kevin

    Just 41 night games? What is the avergae number of night home games played each season?

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Before people start lecturing about zoning laws remember this, there are exceptions and exclusions as a part of law. An entity can apply for a special permit, zoning changes or variances. They have option of making their case before various bodies. And in fact, in Chicago and in municipalities throughout the state of Illinois these are granted regularly. Equally a fact in Illinois the practice of doing so is highly political where friends are rewarded and enemies punished.

    I have intimate knowledge of zoning laws as I am an elected official in this state. And I stand by my statement. I am pro-historic preservation and pro – maintaining neighborhood integrity. I have issues with the Cubs at times, but few entities have bent over more backwards to meet the needs of neighbors, maintain the historic character of neighborhood than the modern Cubs. The neighbors often in this situation have behaved erratically, as opportunists extracting and holding hostage, and simultaneously been the biggest beneficiary of the Cubs largess. They should be ashamed of themselves and if they nix this, the Cubs should move out, its that simple. They are attempting to hold the organization hostage and the Cubs need to call their bluff.

    • DarthHater

      Excellent comment. Thanks, Mike.

  • Crazyhorse

    And who are you ? if you are an elected official and i follow your logic – who are your friends and enemies. Add a completer name and state your position on record- until then your just a person stating his view . that i enjoyed reading

    • DarthHater

      Yea, Mike, if you want to be taken seriously around here, you need to give yourself a better name, like Insanejackass or something. ;-)

      • Crazyhorse

        yes that is colorful- insane jackass

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