Today, the Ricketts Family and the Chicago Cubs announced that they’ve aligned with the Chicago Athletic Club on a deal that would see the CAC open a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in the hotel across from Wrigley Field, which the Ricketts Family plans to build. That hotel, a very attractive addition to the area, will be built on the McDonald’s property, and will be a Sheraton hotel.
Of course, it will be built only if the Cubs are able to proceed with their Wrigley Field renovation plans, which will, themselves, proceed only if the Cubs are able to secure the funding mechanisms necessary to pay for the $300 million renovation.
“My family is prepared to invest $500 million into Wrigley Field and the Wrigleyville neighborhood – one of the top tourist destinations in the state. All of this can happen if we can reach a common sense solution that allows us to run our business,” Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “This would be the one of the biggest investments in the city today and a vote of confidence in the City of Chicago.
“Just as important, reinvesting in Wrigley Field is a major investment in building a championship organization by providing better facilities for our players and new resources for our baseball operation,” Ricketts added. “Further, by developing a new hotel and a terrific health club that the community can enjoy, we’ll create nearly 2000 jobs and create $19 million in new tax revenues to the city, county and state.
“Renovating Wrigley Field, creating a plaza for fans and neighbors, developing a boutique hotel including a Chicago Athletic Club will deliver an additional $94 million annual economic impact on top of the nearly $640 million Wrigley field and the Cubs produce today for our city and state,” Ricketts said.
Announcing the CAC partnership today is a clever way to keep the renovation in the news, and reiterate just how good the total plan is for the City of Chicago.
It is interesting that the Cubs and Ricketts continue to announce elements of the renovation and plans for the surrounding area, even though no agreement with the City has yet been reached. These announcements are undoubtedly at least partially about leverage. But I also tend to think they suggest a certain level of confidence on the part of the Ricketts Family that things will get done. Otherwise, you risk creating so many expectations that could ultimately fall flat.
You also risk negotiating deals with a bunch of corporate partners – consider all of the time, effort, money, and information that goes into such negotiations (as a former lawyer, I can tell you it is considerable) – for nothing.
I take this announcement as a small, but good, sign of progress.