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1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWChicago Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the Cubs and then the media today, and discussed a range of topics of interest (about which, more later), including the status of the Wrigley Field renovation.

Ricketts was optimistic that the organization’s conversations with City Hall were going well, and that the two sides were making progress in coming together on a plan that will relax restrictions enough to result in a renovated Wrigley Field, paid for by added Cubs revenue streams.

“The way it’s looking now, hopefully we can get it through, what we have to do, in the next few weeks,” Ricketts told the media, including the Tribune. “That’ll be plenty of time to get us ready for the off-season [construction].”

Ricketts added, however, that whatever comes in the next few weeks, it won’t include approvals for additional night games during the 2013 season. The Cubs had hoped to gain approval for additional night games last week, theoretically in time for MLB to change a few scheduled start times. While there are always two sides to every story, it sounds like the Mayor and Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the neighborhood in which Wrigley sits, scuttled that plan.

Ricketts also said that they don’t expect their current discussions to result in new ad signage at Wrigley Field during the 2013 season.

So what are the Cubs looking for in the next few weeks, then, if not hurried approvals for night games and signage during the 2013 season? Well, at a minimum, the approvals necessary to make their construction plans. Because of the restrictions imposed on Wrigley Field, the Cubs will need certain – hopefully perfunctory – approvals from the Landmarks Commission and City Council to set the renovation wheels in motion. The Cubs plan to begin work with their massively outdated clubhouse, for example, as soon as this Fall.

But I don’t think any of those approvals are going to be an issue (if they are ultimately necessary at all). Everyone involved wants the end of this process to be a beautifully, functionally renovated Wrigley Field. The trick is the money.

I’ve got to believe that what the Cubs are looking for is a guarantee that they are going to have their sought-after funding mechanisms – ad signage, more night games, more concerts, and street fairs – available to them at some point in the future. Even if those mechanisms don’t kick in for this season, as Ricketts indicated they would not, the Cubs will at least want to know those mechanisms are coming before the Ricketts Family starts writing checks, and before the Cubs start serious work on Wrigley. (And who can blame them? It is important to always keep in mind: the Cubs are simply trying to operate their business as any other team would be permitted to do, in order to pay for these renovations (which will generate jobs and dollars for the City) themselves.)

The issue there, of course, is the Mayor’s push for a “comprehensive plan” before the Cubs can get the approvals they need to move forward with the work. That likely means an agreement with the Wrigleyville rooftops, and an understanding with the neighborhood about what additional “contributions” the Cubs will be making (plus plans for the Triangle property). How can the Cubs make those kind of agreements before they know what level of funding support they’re going to be able to secure? I guess that’s their problem, and it doesn’t seem to be one that anyone outside of Clark and Addison is willing to help them solve.

In the end, I still believe the Mayor has too much to lose by not letting the Cubs “pay their own way” on these renovations. While he is interested in seeing the other constituencies – the rooftops, the neighborhood, Alderman Tunney, the City – happy at the end of this process, he knows that a renovated Wrigley Field, paid for by the Ricketts Family, is a tremendous feather in his cap. And, from the Cubs’ perspective, they are willing to work with the Mayor as necessary, because these funding mechanisms will, themselves, generate added revenue long after the renovation is paid for and completed. In other words, the Cubs, too, have an incentive to play nice.

  • Diamondrock

    Argh, this whole things is so incredibly frustrating. As a devoted fan of Wrigley Field and a believer that the Cubs wouldn’t quite be the Cubs without it, even *I* am *this* close to throwing up my hands and saying “fine, move the team to the suburbs and see how everyone in Wrigleyville likes *that.*”

    Grumble grumble

    • Derrek

      If the Cubs moved to the suburbs, how many people would go to the games and how would they get there?

      The CTA provide bus and train service in the city. Sure, the Metra is out there but the suburbs do not have organized mass transit. Sure, driving is an easy solution but how do those non-drivers get to the games? Who is to say that similar problems would not arise with city councils in the suburbs? Tourists make up a large portion of the yearly attendance at Wrigley, would that carry over?

      Money aside, there are a lot of open-ended questions like this that appear unappealing to any decision-maker.

      • Diamondrock

        Obviously I don’t really believe it’s possible or feasible (or a particularly good idea). I’m just echoing the go-to expression of frustration that most people use in this particular situation. I made the fundamental mistake of forgetting that everyone on the Internet takes everything literally. My apologies.

        • Derrek

          No need to apologize. I generally do not like it when people take things so seriously on the internet but this is clearly a hot-button issue with me, haha.

          • Diamondrock

            Well, for what it’s worth I agree with you. I tend to roll my eyes whenever someone talks about moving the Cubs to the suburbs. I’m just so frustrated by this state of affairs that I was looking for some kind of outlet for my rage.

            • Hansman1982

              I think that if we are in the same boat next year at this time (meaning the neighborhood digs its heels in completely) we will start to see whispers, rumors and innuendos that Tom is contemplating a move.

      • Scotti

        Derrek, the City of Schaumburg, the City of Arlington Heights, etc. would pee their collective pants to get the Cubs and, NO, there wouldn’t be any issues with the city councils of either city (they don’t have issues with Woodfield Mall or the Race Track, respectively). Those cities LIKE business and know how to treat their businesses. More night games? Yes, please! That means more revenue for our city. More concerts? Only four? Couldn’t you do FORTY at Wrigley Field West? That would put more money in our city’s coffers. And, parenthetically, with a removable roof (a la Miller Park), the Cubs could have DAILY concerts, conventions, etc. in the off-season.

        Re. “how would they get there”… A HUGE contingent of Cub fans come from the Northwest burbs. The better question is how do THEY get to Wrigley now? Speaking as one of “they”, it is murder to get into Wrigleyville. Unless you live in the city, Wrigley is actually one of the, if not the, most difficult places to get to in all of Chicagoland. As a fan from the burbs I need to park my car in some offsite lot after sitting in traffic for an hour and take a bus to the game. When I go ANYWHERE else, even downtown, I just take my car and park somewhere. Ample parking EVERYWHERE but Wrigleyville.

        Re. “would tourist come if the Cubs were in the burbs?” The better way to phrase that is “Would tourist come to see the Cubs if they were tons closer to O’Hare, Hotels and ample parking?” I have relatives in Western Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Florida. It’s too much of a hassle for the Western Illinois and Iowa folks to go to games anymore because they drive their cars when they come in. The folks in Wisconsin just wait to see them in Miller Park for the same reason–to hard to get into Wrigleyville with a car. The folks in Florida would be tons more likely to take in a game if the team was closer to O’Hare. And tons of us in the burbs would love to use rt 90 and/or rt 53 to get to a game. Man, would that make things more simple.

        I doubt even the Cubs realize how much damage Alderman Tom Tunney has done to the team over the years. And NOW he’s insisting on private (Cub) money for restoration for government property (Sheridan El) and public perks (Cubs using valuable property for farmers’ markets).

        Do the Cubs want to move? No. If they did move would fans come see them? As long as the team wins and this ownership plans to do so. Would it make it harder for folks in the city to come see them? Sure, but the fan base hasn’t been in the City for a while. Ask folks in the stands where they’re from. It’s the burbs (and throughout the nation). And some folks in the City actually do own cars, too. They can see the Cubs easier in Schaumburg the we can in Wrigleyville.

        There may be other reasons to prefer staying in the City, but you haven’t mentioned them.

        • Rich G

          I very much agree. I’d get season tickets if they were out here.

        • David

          Finally someone who understands that 3 out of 4 people live outside of the city and a lot of visitors do not ever go into the city.

          • 1060Ivy

            BTW, I’ll make a wager that the 3 out of 4 people that live in metro Chicago who never go into the city – and therefore aren’t purchasing Cubs tickets currently – aren’t about to go to Cubs games if they were played in any other of the cities in the tri-state area that metro Chicago represents.

            • Dav

              What a HUGE untaped market – good point – just think of the potential if the demand increased by 6 million per year.

              • TSB

                So you want to give the two mllion plus fans that do live or don’t mind going into the big scary city the shaft ? All so you can drive Dad’s car to Mallville?

                • Scotti

                  First, your numbers are off. Second, unless things change drastically, the team will not be able to capitalize on future success the same way they would be able to in “Mallville.” So, go Mallville!

                  My son goes to DePaul. I go down there weekly. That’s about two miles from Wrigley. Easy parking at DePaul. Easy getting to DePaul. Nobody towing my car at DePaul because I decide to stay an extra 20 minutes. The big bad city isn’t the problem. It’s the antiquated facilities at Wrigley and the city’s refusal to allow a business to run their own business.

  • Tom A.

    Hang in there everyone. If the greedy bar owners, rooftop owners and alderman don’t get real pretty soon, why don’t we all assist by boycotting Murphy’s, the rooftops and other businesses in Tunney’s ward for one or more games. Hit those greedy people where it hurts, their pocketbooks.

    I get sick every time they talk about them being part of the Wrigley experience. Hope they wake up and realize that it is US FANS that are the Wrigley experience !!!

    Greed of the bar owners, rooftop owners and alderman is a sad, sad, sad thing !

  • Derrek

    Cue the ridiculous “MOVE TO THE SUBURBS NOW” comments

    • Tom A.

      How about not talking about moving, but rather us fans talking about boycotting Murphy’s, the rooftops and other businesses in Tunney’s ward for one or more games ? I really think if we organize, we could make a real difference !

      For example, I am willing to let my dollars associated with 3 season tickets avoid Murphy’s, the rooftops and other businesses in Tunney’s ward for all home games in April. It is not difficult to spend those dollars a couple of red-line stops away ! Wouldn’t it be great to see the rooftops and Murphy’s empty on opening day and during every game in April ?

      The FANS and not bars, rooftops and other businesses are the Wrigley experience.

      • Derrek

        I like this idea better than the moving nonsense. I live in Tunney’s ward and for the most part, he is a good guy. I think he is handling this Wrigley Field thing very poorly. He likes to put his residents first, which all good aldermen should do, however, a MLB organization plopped in the middle of the ward calls for some exceptions. Wrigleyville is a residential neighborhood but I have a hard time believing that residents moved into the neighborhood thinking that Cubs games would not be an ordeal.

        In the end I am assuming both sides will come to an agreement. This agreement will probably involve both parties failing to get what they wanted but hey, it’s only fair, right?

        • Tom A.

          Everybody wins but does not get everything they want — that is the definition of compromise. Hope that happens !

          I also hope you are right and Tunney is a decent guy, just not performing well in this situation. If he contributes to the Cubs leaving, he certainly will not be re-elected !

          I have listened to the owner of Murphy’s and rooftops — They are just very greedy people !

          • Derrek

            I wrote a research paper on Wrigleyville back in my college days. I went to a few bars around the park and interviewed owners (or the highest authority I could speak to). The first bar I went to was right across the street from Wrigley (I would rather not name names). It was larger than most of the local bars, clean, and well-lit. I asked the owner about how the Cubs impact the revenue. He said that the Cubs season, good or bad, draws in the bulk of their customers. He knew everything there was to know about his bar but he did not seem to know much about the neighborhood, or even the Cubs for that matter.

            I went to a bar two blocks from Wrigley down Sheffield. This one is commonly known as “The Old Style Bar”. It was dark and small. everything you want in a dive bar. I spoke to the original owner’s daughter. She was very friendly and knew everything there is to know about the Cubs and Chicago. She said business is brutal during the off-season and when the Cubs are not playing good ball. She was humble though. She said there are tons of regulars that spend summer afternoons watching the games in her bar.

            Overall the results I gathered hinted that the smaller bars cared more about the Cubs than the bigger ones. While both owners credited the Cubs for their success and existence, the bigger bar was clearly concerned with their business while the other bar just rolls with the punches.

            So yes, I did notice the big bars near the park tend to be greedy.

            • Tom A.

              If we do get together to boycott the big bars, I am all-in to go to that smaller, dive bar with other true Cubs fans !

              • Derrek

                It’s a great place!

      • Kevin

        For one or more games? How about a boycott that lasts until the Cubs and Ricketts get absolutely everything they want. If that last until next season then it’s time to move elsewhere.

  • Tommy

    So does or has any other team in MLB or any major league sport had to go through this type of thing in order to get improvements made to their field/stadium? I don’t know the answer to this, but I’m curious. It seems ridiculous, but then I’ve never followed teams outside of Illinois, so it may be a normal part of the process.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To get public money? Sure. Occasionally. To allow a team to spend its own money and make its own money? Not that I’m aware of. Not even the Red Sox.

      But, like you, I know the Cubs far, far better than any other team.

      • Tom A.

        I really don’t want the Cubs to leave my beloved City of Chicago !

        What pressure can we as the fans put onMurphy’s, the rooftops and other businesses in Tunney’s ward ? They are far too greedy !

  • 5412

    Hi,

    The White sox had a deal in place to move to St. Pete and then did not honor it. The IL legislature was supposed have it done by midnight. It was not happening and they unplugged the clock in the state house. Remember Ritchie is a sox fan and he was twisting arms trying to get the legislature to fund the deal.

    That is why the DRays were quickly an expansion team. The league promised St. Pete a team, after they built the stadium for the sox, if they would not sue the league.

    In Miami they had to come an inch away from moving before they got their new deal. Ricketts has been beyond patient as compared to most owners. Personally I wish they would move to the suburbs, Chicago is turning into Detroit anyway.

    regards,
    5412

    • Tom A.

      “Chicago is turning into Detroit anyway.” What a truly evil and uninformed comment ! You are that move the team to Gurnee guy, aren’t ya ?

      You ever come to the City ? You ever attend a game at Wrigley Field ? You ever seen the lakefront ? You ever go to the museums ? You ever seen the playhouse district ? You ever eat at a City restaurant or go to a City bar ?

      Now, have you ever been to Detroit ?

      Go root for the Brewers, as they are close to Gurnee.

      • Eric

        Anyone who says Chicago is turning into Detroit has no credibility whatsoever. Where do people come up with this stuff?

      • Ron

        I dont think he was the Gurney guy and generally i like 5412’s posts. On comparing the city to Detroit, well when you have more murders then combat deaths in a freaking war then maybe there is a problem. Just saying.

        • MikeL

          Chicago had over 900 murders in 1992 and over 800 back in 1970. The murder rate in Chicago is actually going down. Using only a murder rate to compare two cities is incredibly stupid. However, if that is the measure you would like to use, look at cities like Washington D.C. and Oakland CA. If both of those cities had a population equal to Chicago’s, both cities would have far more murders than Chicago did last year.

  • Bocabella12

    I grew up in Gurnee, learned my way around public transport by taking the trains to Wrigley from Waukegan. If they move to to Gurnee, they’re doomed. Might as well move to Des Moines, where I live now.

    PS. It was easier to drive to County Stadium, once I had a car, but it was never the same.

    • Tom A.

      All that he said !

  • Die hard

    Wonder if Mayor willing to pull out the hammer- banning all alcohol sales on game days for public health safety and welfare

  • cubfanincardinalland

    There are only three teams in the history of baseball that have not moved to a new stadium. Red Sox, Rays, and Cubs. Moving to enhance a teams revenue is the norm, not the exception. To think the Cubs could not find a lucrative new place to play ball is delusional.
    This thing has gotten to the point of absurdity. Ricketts is still playing nice, but you can tell the patience is running out. Fire a shot across the bow, Rahm will be down there shining their shoes. It would destroy his political career in Chicago if this thing blew up.
    The alderman is a pimp. Time to play hard ball.

    • cubzforlife

      Richie Daley was not mayor when the Sox threatened to leave. He was elected in the fall of 1989. Eugene Sawyer was mayor. That happened in the July of 1988 when the State approved a state financed stadium. Gov. Jim Thompson was the man behind the plan.

  • Jono

    The amount of control the public has over the cubs is simply immoral. Id rather the team wins a world series in the suburbs than continue the drought in lakeview (implying that if moving somehow helps them put a better team on the field, im for it). I LOVE Wrigley, but I love the team even more

  • Mark

    They could move to Rosemont and still have the fans come in on the CTA and have access to 294 and 90. They could build a similar stadium to Wrigley and even use some of the landmark items like the scoreboard. People would come because they were winning which is the plan.

    • Scotti

      I agree except for the landmarked items. They are what IS actually covered by the landmark status–the marque, the scoreboard, the actual brick and ivy–those stay in Chicago. I’d be nice to take them with but they ARE landmarked (the issue of ads is not landmarked regardless of what the local media says). Maybe the City buys Wrigley for $50 million and has 150 concerts a year there… No one else would touch the thing.

  • Fastball

    Maybe the Cubs should relocate out of Illinois. Im a Cub fan. I don’t care where they play. Many franchises in professional sports have moved geographically. Maybe Chicago needs to be taught a lesson.

    • MichiganGoat

      Horrible idea, how about moving the team, changing the name, and become the Oklahoma Dust Clouds or the New Jersey Concrete Boots or Orlando Mouses. Come on man there is no way the Cubs are moving anywhere.

    • Pat

      So the city would lose maybe a quarter percent of their total revenue, and the cubs would lose probably 50% annually on top of the forty or so percent immediate hot to the value of the franchise. Yeah, that would show the city a thing or two.

      • Kevin

        Pat, please explain where you get your information, I need a good laugh!

        • Pat

          Well, let’s see. The largest available market right now is Las Vegas. The #42 television market. So you can take the TV rights from 50 million a year down to 15, maybe 20. Attendance would be maybe 2/3rds of what it is now, and you sure as hell would not be able to charge the same ticket prices in a small market, so cut those by a third as well.

          As for the cubs contribution to total city revenues, go look at a city budget. 1/4 percent is 25 million. The amusement tax brings in 15 million. That leaves 10 million. The City of Chicago receives 1.25% of the 9.5% sales tax charged. That means they get 10 million for every 800 million dollars spent (excluding tickets). The county also get some tax money, but we’re talking the city specifically.

          Laugh all you want, but if you think a move would hurt the City more than the Cubs I would suggest checking what small market teams, even successful ones bring in revenue wise.

          • Kevin

            You are reponding to crazy comments about moving the Cubs out of the the greater Chicago metropolitian area, which will never happen. The Cubs will remain in 3rd largest tv market, it just may not be located at Clark & Addison.

          • Tom A.

            I did some rough estimates and think the Cubs provide at least $50 million annually in tax revenues to the City and likely provide a few to several hundred million dollars of jobs to various employees. I also found our that the City total revenues total approximately $5 billion annually.

            Economics do matter to the City, but as stated above, economics likely matter more to the Cubs and clearly matter the most to the bar and rooftop owners.

            I think the most important fact to any decision is the 3 + million fans that go to Wrigley Field and generally over the last decade put the Cubs in the top ten of all MLB teams. That would never be replicated in the suburbs and maybe not at another location in the City (for example, look at the White Sox that are generally in the bottom ten of all MLB teams).

    • hardtop

      not me. i’m a Chicago Cub fan. one without the other, and its clearly not the same.
      this team isnt just a random group of players assembled to lose games; its not just a name or a uniform.
      this organization is tied to the city through its history and the culture of the fans. the big red C on the caps is for Chicago, without that, who are they?

      • Tom A.

        Yeah !!! You get it. We are talking about the Chicago Cubs and the team just happens to have a ballpark approaching 100 years old located within a beautiful neighborhood. Attending a Cubs game truly is a magical experience.

        The Cubs draw more than 3 million fans annually and consistently at Wrigley Field. When they are soon in the running for a pennant run and a championship, they will draw as many fans as can be fit into the stadium. I would not be surprised if the Cubs games average 42,000 + fans in a year such as that. And, those rooftop owners will benefit greatly as those fine buildings will be full of happy fans, in spite of not being in the stadium. Also, the bar owners and nearby restaurants will greatly benefit from the buying power of Cubs fans 3.25 million strong.

        There is another City team (with equally as wonderful fans) that draws at least 1 million less fans annually — easy highway access, plenty of parking with a wonderful stadium. They was baseball already in Schaumburg and they averaged 3,455 fans per game in 2010. Why such a difference ? Simply not the same as the Wrigley experience, the Cubs experience, the tradition of Chicago Cubs baseball experience, the neighborhood experience, etc.

        Wrigley Field and the Cubs are magic ! Magic not to be messed with. The Cubs ownership knows it, the City of Chicago knows it, the Mayor of Chicago knows it, the bar and restaurant owners know it, the rooftop owners know it and the aldermen and alderwomen know it. I also know all of these people are intelligent and will come together on a deal.

        It seems from what I hear and read that the holdout to any deal are the bar owners, rooftop owners and alderman Tunney (on behalf of the neighborhood). I say to them imagine, just imagine that neighborhood without the Cubs playing baseball at Wrigley Field — a sad, sad place. Now imagine the Cubs playing baseball at Wrigley Field and they are playing for the pennant in 2014 — everything you wanted and more.

        Let’s get that deal done everyone.

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  • Fastball

    Businesses change the corporate head quarters all the time for tax purposes alone. never say it won’t happen. at some point you have to be able to run a business where it makes sense.

    • MichiganGoat

      the loss of revenue and the fan backlash wouldn’t be worth it, its not like the Cubs are struggling to make money like the Oakland A’s or Tampa Bay Rays. If you move them no tax break would make it worth the PR headache that would follow. They have a great plan to renovate Wrigley lets stick to that plan.

      • Tom A.

        All that he said ! And, they have a season ticket base here in the City, along with a waiting line of over 100,000.

        What they did with Fenway is an example of good, sound business sense. I am sure there also were people in Boston looking for hand-outs. But, it sure seems that the Wrigley area bar owners, rooftop owners and alderman are excessively greedy.

        Derrek stated that Mr. Tunney might not be a bad guy. If that is true Mr. Tunney, please be reasonable with your requests. It sure seems like the Cubs are trying (already saying no more night games this year and no new signage this year).

  • Die hard

    Rooftoppers may be in breach of current contract implied duty of fair dealing and good faith Interfering with Cubs plans even though not part of existing contract…. the parties are legally joined at the hip in an ongoing reciprocal duty not to do anything to harm the others business while contractual relationship exists

    • Tom A.

      Clearly the public-speaking bar-owner of Murphy’s is doing exactly that.

      Regardless of such poor and greedy behavior by the bar owners and rooftop owners, I am hoping the alderman will assist them to see the wisdom of sensible compromise. Stop biting the hand that feeds you bar owners and rooftop owners.

      And, if you really want to calm us fans down a bit, stop saying that the bars and rooftops are the Wrigley experience and focus on the fans (who are the true Wrigley experience).

  • Ralph

    Hopefully an agreement will be worked out. If not, then let the chips fall were they may.

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