Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Tom Ricketts Offers a Non-Update, But This is a National Story

1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWThere are reasons to suspect that, when Tom Ricketts announced an agreement with the Chicago Athletic Club to put a state-of-the-art exercise facility into the hotel that the Ricketts Family plans to build across from Wrigley Field, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn’t too happy about the Ricketts trying to apply public pressure. The day after the announcement, Mayor Emanuel summoned Ricketts and Wrigleyville Alderman Tom Tunney to a meeting at City Hall. I think it’s a fair guess that the Mayor doesn’t want this fight to continue to play out in the media (that ship has sailed, Mr. Mayor – see, for example, the second half of this post), and he’d like to see all sides coming to a swift, private conclusion.

So you can imagine Tom Ricketts’ possible discomfort when facing the media yesterday as he and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith talked up the new Spring Training facility, paid for in large part by the people of Mesa. He knew the Wrigley Field renovation questions were coming. He knew the parallels to the Spring facility were coming. I wonder if there were a dozen conflicting inputs swirling in his head as he had to try and figure out the right things to say.

I think he probably did the best he could.

“There’s a handful of issues left and we’re working them out with the Alderman and working them out with the Mayor,” Ricketts told the media when asked about the renovation situation. “If we’re going to be in the ground in October, we have to get some resolution in the next few weeks.”

This tentative time line has been the Ricketts’ position since they offered to fund the renovation themselves, back in January. In return, the Ricketts ask that various restrictions on their use of Wrigley Field be lifted, so that they can make the additional revenues necessary to fund the renovation. And the Ricketts family won’t start signing checks for the renovation until they know for certain they’re going to have those funding mechanisms – increased ad signage, more night games, more concerts, and street fairs – available to them.

“Before we green light the project, we want to know what the deal is,” Ricketts said. “What we said in January was that we’ll pay for the project, but we also need to have control of our ballpark and that’s still our position.”

Again, nothing new, and still quite reasonable.

But Ricketts couldn’t help but re-apply just a tiny bit of public pressure, and I can’t say I blame him.

“It’s an incredible project for the city [of Chicago] in terms of the number of jobs we create – the 2,100 jobs we create – the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, the tax dollars created, and of course, just the general economic activity that comes with tourist coming to Wrigley. The incentives are there. I think we’ll get there.”

Even if Ricketts had said nothing at all, the Wrigley renovation story was going to be in the national conversation yesterday anyway, thanks to a quintessentially Rick Reilly piece published on ESPN.com.

In the overwrought way only he can pull off (or not, depending on your bent), Reilly laments the many ways the Cubs are losing money by playing in Wrigley Field – particularly in its current state. Reilly takes a club to the rooftop owners (whom Reilly calls “leeches,” protected by the City), the City (“Fine, if they’re a city treasure, then the city should help support them, the way it did for this summer’s 30th anniversary of the Chicago Blues Festival, which received a $15,000 grant. The Cubs pay 12 percent city ‘amusement’ tax on every ticket … and yet the city doesn’t give them a dime. Very unamusing.”), and the neighborhood (for fighting the Cubs’ desire to have more night games).

The article, which reads like it was pitched directly from the Cubs, is the most strongly-worded support of the current Ricketts funding plan I’ve seen. As I’ve said before, I tend to think there’s a great deal behind the scenes to which we’ll never be privy – which is to say, I’m sure the reality is that Tunney and the Mayor aren’t simply villainous caricatures, twisting their mustaches – but I can’t take too much issue with what Reilly says. His financial estimates can mostly be ignored, and he’s a bit too harsh on the rooftops, but, for the most part, he captures the uniquely unfair position the Cubs’ stadium puts them in (at least relative to other large market teams with a ballpark that should otherwise be a great draw).

At bottom, I’m just glad Reilly wrote the piece, and is helping keep this story in the national consciousness. I believe the Ricketts Family has bent considerably to get this deal done (and it’s so, so, so (so!) critical to the future of the Cubs), and continued national attention – particularly of the kind Reilly is giving – can only help spur the City, the Alderman, and the neighborhood to do some bending of their own.

[Disclosure: Some of the rooftops advertise on BN, but that has not affected how I cover this ongoing story.]

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

136 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Tom Ricketts Offers a Non-Update, But This is a National Story”

  1. CubFan Paul

    Reilly will be on espn 1000 at 1:30

  2. MightyBear

    God this post is going to bring out the usual idiots.

  3. Chuck

    Good piece, but I’d argue the Ricketts haven’t bent at all. What they’ve done is stopped asking the public to bend financially and have finally started acting the way their family has spoken in public about their anethma to government spending.

    I don’t think the Ricketts are doing anything now that they shouldn’t have done in the first place. I don’t give people credit for finally behaving properly.

    1. hansman1982

      They were asking for no money to actually come from the city/state’s pockets. Merely any amount more than what is presently collected on Amusement Taxes (which it appears does not apply to White Sox tickets) which are paid by the people who use the facility. On top of this, and knowing that the Cubs do provide to the overall wealth of the city, the Cubs were asking for half of the funds of this project to come from that.

      The Cubs were NOT asking for the city to defund any part of the public sector, increase taxes, or take from any reserve fund for this AND they were willing to foot $300M of the bill (which in reality was all of the bill since any increase to the price of tickets could have gone directly to the team, rather than the city).

      This is actually a step down from the deals that the other 2 major sports teams got. Now the Ricketts are offering to fund the deal 100% in exchange for loosened restrictions at Wrigley. The city “won” the negotiation.

      But since the Ricketts are rich, noone cares about the disparate treatment.

      1. db kyle

        “They were asking for no money to actually come from the city/state’s pockets.”

        I’m not asking for any money from you. I merely want a portion of your paychecks to be diverted to me before you ever see it.

        1. hansman1982

          Or…rather than increasing the amount I directly pay to you, I take all of the money that I project to give you in increases over the next 30 years to the people that work for you (who will then give a portion of that to you) which they then purchase more items (that, again, you receive a portion of) and I increase the amount of money I make thereby giving you more through those taxes.

          Oh, and this is after you gave hundreds of millions (if not a billion or two) to 2 of the other people that operate within your zone of control without the repayment method that I am proposing.

          This is after I pay for a lot of the community impact that my presence has and my mere presence in your zone of control greatly improves the lives of tens of thousands of other people in your zone.

          Oh, and the funding mechanism? Ya, that’s something you don’t charge to my twin brother. Whom, you gave a free house to.

        2. Still Love the Cubs

          Umm….that happens all the time. It’s called Payroll Taxes that we all pay to the government. Also our health insurance comes out of our paychecks before we ever see the money.

          Yes it would have meant less revenue for the city, but the facts are, we pay for things that we need and that help us. The city of Chicago NEEDS the Cubs, and are helped immensely by them. I would have thought they would understand that they needed them enough to have part of the amusement tax (paid directly by cubs fans who by tickets to Wrigley) come out of their “paycheck.”

          Either way, I see it that the Cubs just feel that over the long run, having ability to do what they want with advertising and night games is a better deal than simply a break on the amusement tax. The tax break runs out when the renovation cost is repaid. Relaxed restrictions are forever.

        3. JB88

          Imprecise analogy. The equivalent would be that you are already paying hansman and a portion of that was taken out every time you paid him and went directly to the city. The Cubs; i.e., hansman, are merely asking that the City stop receiving a portion of the money that you already agreed to pay hansman.

  4. DB KYLE

    The ballpark gives the Cubs unique and annoying challenges that I’d love to see them overcome and generate even more revenue.

    But let’s not lose sight of the fact that they also have a ton of advantages. This is still one of the league’s top revenue teams by a wide margin, in one of the league’s smallest-market divisions.

  5. Die hard

    Watch Cubs extend relationship with NW Univ to build new multi purpose stadium on campus and will become the Evanston Cubs

    1. TNN2

      Evanston has the same relationship with NU that the rooftop owners have with the Cubs.

      1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        Plus purple pinstripes is hard to say.

    2. Leroy


  6. CityCub

    This whole renovation project is kinda disappointing to see, specially when I don’t think it’ll end anytime soon. The fact that the Cubs are up against the ridiculous resistance from the City is crazy. And the fact that Tom Tunny wants the Cubs to fund projects like renovations to the red line station and street scape is nuts. I’m not too sure how that’s the clubs’ responsibility. I’m not saying the Cubs should move the team, but C’mon Man. Let them do their jobs and run their business.

    1. DB KYLE

      I wonder what people would have said in 2009 when Ricketts took over if they knew there’d still be no renovation deal more than three years later.

      1. Die hard

        We did and there isnt

  7. clark addison

    They won’t be a top revenue team for long with the new TV deals that other teams are getting.

    I’m not a fan of Reilly, but agree with him on this one, especially when it comes to the rooftop parasites.

    1. Westbound Willie

      The cubs won’t really be eligible for a tv deal until their Comcast deal expires in 2019. There’s only about 40 games on wgn and I believe that expires this year.

      The cubs own 25 percent of Comcast so by leaving Comcast they would hurt their own entity ownership comcast

      Also I believe the ricketts have an ownership stake in one of the rooftops so again by harming them he would be harming himself. Makes little sense.

  8. Leroy

    Didn’t like Reilly or Goodman’s articles…

  9. Dan W

    Bring on the national attention. Thats the last thing the Chicago politicans want is “NATIONAL ATTENTION”. I think when all is said and done, Rick Reilly will probably be on the Ricketts Christmas card list this year. I think Reilly’s story will generate ALOT of press, good for the CUBS not good for the sleezy politicans. I can hear them squirming all the way over here in Northern Indiana.

    1. CityCub

      I’d like to see more writers besides Reilly produce more articles about the entire situation. Brett is right in all of his articles about this, we’ll never exactly know what’s going on behind closed doors with the city and the Ricketts family. But this gaining nation attention/interest could only benefit the Cubs. The Schistey politicians don’t want that breathing down their neck while attempting to “negotiate” with the club.

  10. Mrcub1958

    Agree with Dan W. Enough is enough. It’s long overdue to focus on nothing but a World Series.

  11. Alex

    One of the biggest sticking points with Tunney are additional night games. I’ve always wondered how this would affect the Cubs next TV deal. A new TV deal with more games in prime time would be so much more attractive to any station looking to partner with the Cubs after 2014. I would imagine the Cubs would get a much better TV deal IF they can get more games in prime time.

    1. CityCub

      I don’t really understand the issue for Tunney to have a problem with an increase in night games. I understand his view with wantin more police security, but that’s not the Cubs’ responsibility to pay for an increase in police. If I bought/owned a house that was across the street or in the Wrigley Field area. I’d expect/love up be able to hear games from my property at night during the summer and have no complaints about it. Yeah I know I don’t actually live there, or live anywhere close to the Wrigley Field area but it’s kinda gotta be expected when even thinking about buying in the neighborhood.

      1. JB88

        His main issue is that the bars don’t want more night games because the bars lose money. They, instead, want day games that get out at 4 or so and fans going to those bars for the rest of the night.

        Basically it all comes down to the bars (many of whose owners also own the rooftops).

        1. CityCub

          Ok, I see what your saying. But my next question would be, Why and how do the bar owners take priority over the main reason(Wrigley Field and the games) that the people are there in the first place? Even if a majority of the bar owners own the rooftops, I’m sure their profit margin is higher from ticket sales over their liquor and food sales(more booze than food I’m sure lol) for the season. Their complaint is valid but the games(pre and post-game) is the reason they stay as busy during the summer as they do I’m sure. If that makes sense.

          1. JB88

            I can’t agree that the profit margin is higher on the tickets sold. First, most of those rooftops are all-you-can-eat/drink affairs, so there is fairly high overhead already. Second, the rooftops have a fairly limited number of persons who can buy tickets.

            Let’s say the number of seats available is 200 (and that is probably a high estimate, I’d guess). Only 200 people can actually enter for the game. Period. At a bar, they cram people in so tight and can keep cramming them in or circulating them in and out. Plus, the benefit of the day game is that you have them in the bar during the game and then have another 30K fans who potentially could enter the bar later.

            For a night game? Not so much.

            As for why the rooftops/bar owners take priority over Wrigley, that’s simple: They pay Tunney money and the Cubs don’t.

            1. Alex

              I wholeheartedly disagree with you on the rooftops. As the season wore on there were a whole lot of fans dressed as empty seats on the rooftops as well as in Wrigley. I’ve gotten more Groupon and Living Social coupons for half off rooftops as the season wore on. They STILL couldn’t come close to selling out on the rooftops. As the team gets better, the rooftops can drop their Groupons and go back to selling tickets at their normal rate or probably even raise prices to accommodate demand.

              As for the bars, fans can come earlier to drink and eat so as not to take out a loan for a beer inside of Wrigley. Games end at 10p and people will still flood out to the bars after the games are over and probably stay later. The argument that the bars are making is extraordinarily weak. The same point can be made for a the bars as well as the rooftops that when the Cubs put a better product on the field, the bars will benefit even WITH more night games.

              There is no doubt that Tunney is paid off by the rooftops and bars. This is why the Mayor needs to go over Tunney to get this done.

              There is nothing more I’d like to see than Tunney, the rooftop and bar owners get screwed in the long run. But alas, I know it won’t happen.

              1. JB88

                I don’t think we are really disagreeing. My point was merely that you have a finite product with the rooftops that are limited by the number of seats you can sell. Sure, the costs of those tickets may fluxuate, but you are still constrained by the number of seats that can be sold.

                The big driver in this is the fear that the bars have of losing night audiences.

                Having lived in and around Wrigley for the better part of decade, I can tell you that during the week, things tend to get quiet by 10 p.m., if not earlier. And while people do still go to bars after the Cubs’ games, they aren’t packed in the way that they are after a day game.

                1. Alex

                  I dunno, maybe you and Doc are right here. I’m sure the bars don’t want Friday or Saturday night games because they get a steady flow of patrons throughout the day and evening on day game days. It’s hard for any person to understand why they can call all the shots to maximize their profits and how to run their businesses and Cubs can’t.

                  The restrictions not only handcuff the Cubs to maximize their revenue at Wrigley, but as I stated earlier, it has to potentially affect their future TV deals with having fewer prime time games. I understand that the businesses have to look out for their own interests first, but this would all be a moot point if the Mayor simply lifts the restrictions on the Cubs and let them run their business the way they see fit. The mayor can go over Tunney on this and Tunney knows it. The restrictions come from the city and not Tunney’s ward.

        2. Alex

          This is what bothers me the most. Wrigley Field and the Cubs were the attraction which brought the bars into the area in the first place. These businesses are making a VERY good coin piggybacking off the Cubs. Now they are trying to hamstring the Cubs from generating revenue.

          More revenue for the Cubs will translate into a better product on the field and subsequently, higher attendance. If that doesn’t equate to more money for the bars, I don’t know what does.

          1. JB88

            In theory, I see your point. But that said, let’s say that there were only 30 day games in a season verus the 50 or so there are now. That means that there are 20 less nights that the bars are going to be the main attraction around Wrigley Field. It is 20 more nights where Cubs fans are leaving the park around 10 p.m. and possibly heading home versus 20 more day games where the fan is leaving at 4 p.m., maybe looking for dinner or maybe looking for a bar to throw back a few more.

            Bars and restaurants just don’t see that same sort of action for a night game. Whereas going to a day game is an all-day affair, a night game for most seems to be a get-in, get-out sort of activity.

          2. DocPeterWimsey

            Also, remember that most of those bars and restaurants have been sold and resold more than once since Wrigley made them valuable. The current owners bought them on the assumption of something like the current business levels. If the Cubs increase night games, then they run a real risk of seeing the values of their investments decrease.

            1. Alex

              I see your point Doc. The bars owners know their businesses better than I do. I’m saying that if the Cubs were to get more night games especially more Friday and Saturday night games, People will come to Wrigley before the games to have dinner and drinks before going to the game. And after the game is over at 10p, they can stay at the bar until the bar closes.

              There is nothing better to increase their bottom line as the Cubs putting a successful product on the field. If the Cubs can’t generate more revenue, there will be more seasons of lower payroll and blowing up the roster to build it up again. Then there is lower attendance and fewer patrons at the bars and restaurants. This is very narrow sighted arguments from the rooftop and bar owners.

              Lets not forget the attraction as to why they bought or started a bar there in the first place. There has to be some kind of compromise.

            2. DarthHater

              [shrug] I don’t give a rat’s backside about the bar owners’ return on investment. If they made an investment premised on projected traffic generated by the operations of a neighboring business (i.e. the Cubs), then it was their responsibility to include in the evaluation of that investment an assessment of the risk that the neighboring business might change the way it conducts its operations in the future. If they didn’t conduct a proper risk assessment, that’s just poor business practice, for which they should suffer the consequences.

              But the bars have no right to compel the Cubs to conduct Cub business in a way that benefits the bars, any more than the Cubs would have a right to compel the bars to operate their businesses in a way that benefits the Cubs.

              1. Alex

                Great points. You are spot on with that.

              2. Alex

                It even reads better the second time.

  12. mak

    Even though I just vowed not to read Reilly… I did. His numbers are beyond made up. My favorite is the bit about how its hard to move around Wrigley = fans bring in $1M per season instead of buying from vendors. OK Rick.

  13. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    If the Rickett’s were smart, they’de start looking for suburban property NOW. They can invest 300 mil, now, probably 300 mil more in 5 years, and again in 5 more years. For what?
    It’s time for a new stadium.

  14. TonyP

    I wonder how attendance would be if we moved to the Burbs. I love Wrigley as much as anyone but I’m really starting to think we would be better off in a brand new state of the art facility outside of the city limits. I’m 40 years old and live 600 miles from Chicago. I only care about winning, if our chances of winning improve leaving Wrigley then bye bye bye. Probably not the most popular opinion but……

    1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      Tony, attendence may be tied into performance a bit more than it is now, but it wouldn’t be too much different. If they were to build in a spot with easy access (expressways, public trans, and parking) they’d more than make up for those who go to Wrigley for the history of it. There’s only one part of Wrigley that would be missed. The wind.It is a bit quirky that the ballpark and play differently from day to day.

      1. JB88

        I don’t agree with this. I don’t think you can underestimate how many fans in the summer are from out-of-state and how many of those fans come solely to say they’ve been to Wrigley Field. I think you lose a lot of that if the Cubs move.

        1. TonyP

          Interesting, I think you would gain more with new Stadium than you would lose because of Wrigley. Who knows………..

          1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016


          2. JB88

            Gain more attendance? Gain more money?

            I think in the short term maybe that’s true, but I don’t think you can discount the number of fans that come to the stadium simply because it is Wrigley Field. If you aren’t playing in Wrigley Field, do you have families make pilgrammages to Chicago just to see the field? I’m not convinced of that.

            1. Alex

              If that were the case, then the Yankees would have simply renovated Yankee Stadium and be done with it. If there is a professional stadium or arena with as much history and tradition as Yankee Stadium, I’d like to see it.

              1. Steve

                The only history that Wrigley Field has is a history of losing! I wouldn’t care if the Cubs won the World Series in DeKalb just as long as they win one!

    2. Dean

      I think the owners of Arlington Park would be very willing to listen to an offer from the Ricketts family. Would be a great place to put the new Wrigley Field.

      I love Wrigley and would hate to see the Cubs leave, but it’s clear the alderman would prefer the Cubs leave, so he can increase the value of the neighborhood in the future “there used to be a ballpark hereville.”

      If the current facility and restrictions are going to be one more barrier to putting a winning product on the field, let’s move along and let’s move along now.

      1. Pat

        Arlington would never work. Not all the traffic would come in off of 53, and Euclid drops to a single lane 25 mph zone on either side do the park within a mile. It would cripple traffic in the area to try to put a stadium there.

        1. Scotti

          And what happens at Wrigley 81 times a year now? Ten times worse. Regardless, Arlington Heights would put in eighteen lane roads on all sides if they needed to in order to get the Cubs, trust me. The mayor and city council would personally lay the asphalt.

          1. Pat

            No, they wouldn’t. Obviously you are not particularly familiar with those stretches of road. There is nowhere to expand without clearing out hundreds of houses. Plus, do you really think the people of Arlington Heights want the traffic hassles? It would get voted down in no time. These aren’t college kids who mostly take public transit. They are people with kids who would not want an extra one to three hours added to their commutes sixty times a year.

            And to suggest traffic at Wrigley is any worse than what would happen in AH is laughable. Right now maybe 20 percent, at most, of fans drive to the games. It would be close to 100 percent in Arlington Heights.

            1. Steve

              I can see it now a beautiful state of the art facility in Naperville and numerous world championships won there! Tear down the dump on Clark! Screw Tunney and screw Rahm! Why deal with these Chicago and Cook County crooked politicians! The city should pay the Cubs to stay there!

              1. Scotti

                No to Naperville (too far south) but yes to everything else.

            2. Scotti

              I live in Arlington Heights about two and a half miles from the track. My brother is about a half mile from the track.

              Re. traffic hassles: There is already a race track there that can seat up to 50k (roughly 20k MORE than Wrigley seats). Yes, the Cubs draw more now–that’s what could, conceivably, make this possible. The Track isn’t performing as it once did (but it WAS thriving for a time). The track also holds (gasp) concerts. It is also a Metra stop. My family and i pass the track frequently and there just simply isn’t a traffic problem at all.

              Re. voters wouldn’t allow it: Uh, we voters allowed the new facility in ’89 (knowing full well the seating capacity) and we voters (most of whom wouldn’t be affected by any traffic what-so-ever) really like the jobs and REVENUE. In fact, we kinda wish the track was doing better (silly us). And we voters would HATE to see the place fall down even further or even shuttered. And we voters would LOVE (L O V E) to one up the City (no, that would be one billion up). Stealing the City’s best (real) draw? That would put AH on the map! It’s done well for the City and absolute WONDERS for Mesa. Bring. It. On.

              Re. “extra one to three hours added to their commutes sixty times a year”: Wow. It doesn’t take the park even half an hour to empty out now for any of the larger events (concerts, Million, fireworks, which all can draw 30k plus). Somehow that will morph in to a ridiculous one to three hours??? Um, no.

              AH, Schaumburg and any city led by people with any intelligence at all would bend over backwards for a business like the Cubs.

              1. Scotti

                And, speaking of being voted out… Rahmbo AND Tunney would both be voted out if they lost the Cubs.

              2. Pat

                You’re confusing emptying vs filling. The track does not have everyone trying to show up by the start of the first race. Nor is the starting time during rush hour. And yes it would that effect on traffic during rush time on a weekday. There no comparison other than capacity. The track is really only busy on weekends. You notice I mentioned sixty times a year rather than eighty one. That was to account for less impact on traffic on weekends. If you actually live that close, which I question given your belief that Euclid could easily be expanded there, and want that hassle then I hope it happens, but I don’t think many of your neighbors will agree with you.

                1. Scotti

                  “If you actually live that close, which I question given your belief that Euclid could easily be expanded there…”

                  I’m somehow thinking you misconstrued my saying that the surrounding streets could be expanded to EIGHTEEN lanes as something other than hyperbole. Regardless, every major sports event–including the racetrack–deals with traffic. The worst–by magnitudes–is Wrigley Field. The track here does an excellent job and, yes, they do have large events during the week–just not like they used to.

                  “…and want that hassle then I hope it happens, but I don’t think many of your neighbors will agree with you.”

                  I know my neighbors. I know that they like business. I know that they like what the track brings to the community (jobs and tax revenue) and the Cubs would bring those same positives many times over. I looked into Mesa in detail when the whole Naples thing was bouncing around. The publicity alone for “Beautiful Mesa” (for just a handful of spring games) was worth the $80 million they just pooped out. Well worth it.

                  “You’re confusing emptying vs filling.”


              3. Pat

                As to one hour being ridiculous, it would take that just to get from Randhurst to parked in the lot at 5:30 on a weekday. Ever been to Ravinia or Tinley Park or Rosemont? Half an hour for the last mile and a half happens all the time.

                1. Scotti

                  Dude, you said one to THREE hours. That’s just laughable.

                  1. Pat

                    Not really. I don’t think you realize how much extra traffic that is over a concentrated period of time. Or how often 53 and several of the local main arteries are under construction at the same time during the season. There is a reason stadiums that actually have parking are no longer built in residential areas.

  15. DONNIE621

    MightyBear is right… he responded. (one of the usual idiots)

    But for the critical thinkers this is great news… it’s past time for this to come to an end.

    1. MightyBear

      You’re right Donnie I am an idiot for jumping into this again. You are also right that this is past time for this to end. The City and State should’ve ponied up some cash (not 200 mil but something). Tunney and the rooftop owners should realize who butters their bread and shut up and the Ricketts should have picked up the rest and had these renovations done a year ago. But since I’m not a critical thinker, maybe you can enlighten me. What in that post makes you think this is great news and that it’s almost over?

  16. Jschroeder


  17. cubfanincardinalland

    Reilly thusly nailed it. My son is a financial advisor for one of the top law firms downtown. Had lunch recently with him and his boss, who is a partner in the firm, and a very connected guy to the movers in Chicago.
    Here is a conspiracy theory for the masses to chew on. His narrative is that the Cubs are playing this whole thing Machivellian brilliant, with the goal from day one to rid themselves of having to maintain and play in this albatross of a ball park, for the numerous reasons Mr. Reilly enlisted. To wit, the Cubs franchise is the asset the Ricketts purchased, the ballpark was the liability. Any sound business plan would be predicated on recognizing and rectifying that.

    Of course, the fly in the ointment from day one was, we can’t just move, initiating the public relations debacle of the century. So what to do. Follow the story, and you see the plan, with the intended result of “we were forced by the city to find another solution”. Move the needle on public perception, something Cub fans of the world can rally around.

    Do you think people that are smart enough to build a multi billion dollar business like Ameritrade, would be so dense as to alienate the mayor by attacking his mentor and confidante, unintentionally? One with a reputation for revenge over perceived slights, he is known as the “Rahminator”. And his honor took the hook in a single bite. It appears he has realized the scenario, and is now flailing away intensely, seeking to avoid being the mayor who lost the Cubbies. Trogdolites like a Tunney will never be so enlightened, and will play the part to the bitter end. And end well it will not.

    1. Joker

      Hmmmm…I (and lots of us sadly) love a good conspiracy theory.

    2. JB88

      This conspiracy theory would have more legs IMO if the Cubs hadn’t given up on the amusement tax angle. Their negotiating position with a suburb would be much better if they were potentially holding out for public funding from the city.

      Now what do the burbs have to beat? Basically let the Cubs hold street fairs and advertise how they see fit.

  18. Mike

    I don’t think Rahm is being THAT villainous. As much as I disagree with Tunney and think he’s a weasel, the mayor can’t just come down on one side or the other. Especially when one side is an alderman and the citizens of his city. If he did that it would appear villainous. Something will get worked out so Tunney can save face. Which is probably what this is really all about. Tunney saving face and appearing to look like he is fighting for his constituents, when really all he’s fighting for are the rooftop owners.

  19. Rich

    Well boo hoo for the bar owners that bought around Wrigley without the ever real possibility of the Cubs adding more night games.. I mean stuff happens all the time..

    If there business is so reliant on 81 home games minus 30 night games, because people are going to go home, well then that is there problem.

    I would love to see the team get a real ballpark and all the rooftops and bar owners can wait for the next Wrigley Field tractor pull.

  20. aCubsFan

    I agree with Reilly’s characterization of the Rooftop owners. They are leeches and parasites which have the backing of the Alderman. They violate the Cubs copyright on a daily basis and the Cubs get a few sheckles from them. If any other business had their product stolen the Alderman would be crying about how unfair it is that area businesses were being robbed.

    1. Edwin

      What copyright would that be, exactly?

      1. aCubsFan

        The Cubs product, which is their baseball games that happen within the ‘friendly confines’ of Wrigley Field, is a copyrighted product both in person and on air (radio and TV).

        Fans take photos but I bet they didn’t realize that if they attempted to sell them they couldn’t without getting a model’s release from the player(s) or release from the Cubs — neither would happen — and doing so would be a violation of the Cubs copyright.

        1. db kyle

          You are mixing up some different ideas, and copyright isn’t involved in most of them (except for the TV and radio broadcast).

          There is no such thing as a “copyright” of a live event.

          1. MJ

            The Cubs did sue the rooftops for “Copyright Infringement” in 2002. Any live event that you attend, MLB or any league game, concert, etc., where you get charged to view it, can be considered a copyrighted event.

            1. db kyle

              You cast a wide net when you sue. The Cubs’ copyright claim was over TVs on the rooftops.


              “In sum, the Chicago Cubs will have a difficult time arguing for copyright in their games. Indeed, the Cubs’ Complaint does not even claim copyright in the games. Instead, it apparently claims copyright only in the telecasts”

          2. DarthHater
  21. Mike

    Wouldn’t you all agree that Wrigleyville saw its most dramatic shift in demographics and rise in population (both residential and business) and property values after the Cubs put in lights? Because before 1988 I don’t really view Wrigleyville as being a popular neighborhood to live in or open a business in. Sure there were some bars but it has grown exponentially since the 90s really.

    That’s what drives me so insane about these people who live around there, or who opened a business around there. At least a business that doesn’t necessarily cater to the pre/post-game crowd. You knew where you were moving to or opening your business. You knew that Wrigley was a destination and that they had night games. So why are you so surprised now?

    1. Rebuilding

      Every neighborhood north of downtown has seen the exact same shift – look at Wicker Park and Logan Square, very similar shifts. The Cubs couldn’t draw anyone in the late 70s and early 80s because people were literally scared to go near there. The uplifting of the neighborhood has more to do with demographic shifts than the Cubs otherwise it would have been a good neighborhood since 1914. Yuppies are staying in the city as opposed to moving to the suburbs – it’s happening in all big cities

      1. Mike

        OK how about this…the popularity of the Cubs sped up the demographic shift in Wrigleyville. It happened in the late 80s and early 90s instead of in the last decade+ like we saw in Wicker Park, Bucktown, Ukrainian Village, Logan Square etc…Not to mention the fact that in 1914 not as many people lived that far outside of the central part of Chicago. As the city grew people started to move out from the center, the city began swallowing up municipalities and making them part of Chicago.

        But the fact still remains that the demographic shift happened AFTER the lights and AFTER the Cubs had a huge jump in popularity because of the superstation, Harry Caray and the 84 and 89 teams. That’s when people started to really move into Wrigleyville. So they knew what they were getting into and therefore I have no sympathy for them beyond the fact that yes the Cubs need more parking and yes more police. Other than that they can go screw because they moved into a very small neighborhood that was home to a baseball team and then decided to be dicks about everything the team wanted to do.

        1. Rebuilding

          I’m with you, Mike. I think they are being totally unreasonable. My point is that the neighborhood would be nice either way by now given the demographic shifts. Any talk of the Cubs moving is pointless. Much of the value of the Cubs is the experience of the ballpark and the neighborhood around it. People travel all over the world to see it, businessmen from all over want to go to Cubs games to walk down Clark and look at 20 something old girls and Aunt Maude takes tour buses from Iowa because its an experience “in the city”. That’s not happening in Schaumburg

  22. Die hard

    Wonder if the bars could bid on the vendor business and or to have a spot under the stands as a compromise ?

  23. Die hard

    If the Cubs would donate $5000 to every K-8 public school for school supplies every year I think we have a deal

  24. Rebuilding

    I think that the rooftop owners, bar owners and neighbors should be much more accommodating than they have been. Obviously they have derived great value from the Cubs and Wrigley and should want the Cubs franchise to thrive. The rooftop owners have admitted their “parasite” nature the minute they split any revenue with the Cubs. With that said I think many on here really underestimate the appeal and destination status of the park and the neighborhood in general. The ride up the red line, the electricity on game day, the overflowing bars a block from the park, the rooftops overlooking the stadium, the view of a major city and the lake. I have had many friends and clients – some jaded old one too – tell me it was one of the best experiences of their lives. I’ll never forget the shots of the neighborhood overflowing during Game 6 in 2003. I lived in California at the time and all of my friends out there were blown away by the whole scene. It’s all part of the reason the Cubs will be at 98% capacity every year. All of the buses out in front of the park aren’t there just for the Cubs. All of the 20 something’s in the bleachers aren’t there just for the Cubs. The franchise isn’t going anywhere. Any move to the suburbs would cut a couple hundred million off the value of the franchise immediately

    1. Die hard

      And the drunks peeing on the lawns and side of the buildings and underage drinkers puking on the sidewalks and the fights in the streets and the side swiping of cars and the speeding down the alleys etc…. Yes fond memories for the poor souls who have the misfortune of trying to raise a family in that residential neighborhood

      1. Rebuilding

        The ballparks been there for awhile. There are about 20 other comparable neighborhoods they could move to. If those are your memories of Wrigley than I guess you haven’t had the same experiences as most

        1. Die hard

          So if that’s the attitude of the Ricketts family it’s no wonder the mayor is standing up for the people who don’t have a say in how their neighborhood is going to be further decimated

          1. Rebuilding

            Not sure what you mean. That neighborhood is far from being decimated. I don’t think an additional 10-20 night games during the summer or a few night games is going to do it. My point is that the Cubs are never moving because to many Cubs fans the franchise is more than OPS and reliever usage, but rather the experience as a whole. People don’t take buses from Iowa to watch the Sox

            1. Die hard

              They do so from Missouri and Minnesota

      2. fromthemitten

        I was in partying hard in Wrigleyville back in January and it was like that then even without the Cubs. Some bro wouldn’t stop harassing my friend until I asked him if he heard of our savior Jesus Christ

        1. fromthemitten

          I also saw two fights and a couple people getting kicked out of the bars

          1. Rebuilding

            Yeah, head to any neighborhood in Chicago and you’ll see the same. There is a somewhat younger demographic in Wrigleyville because its relatively far north and therefore cheaper than Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, etc so that maybe ups the meathead level

            1. Die hard

              Simple solution- the City bans all alcohol sales within 5 blocks of the park on game day during and 2 hrs before and after each game if the true intent is to allow people to watch baseball games

              1. fromthemitten

                wow THAT will go over really well and like I said Wrigleyville is a hot mess even when there aren’t baseball games

                1. Morken

                  How often are you in Wrigleyville?


                  As someone who actually lives in the city of Chicago, Wrigleyville holds its own as a well-regarded, Chicago neighborhood.

                  1. fromthemitten

                    I know enough about Chicago to know that they don’t let middle schoolers into the bars

                    1. Morken

                      I repeat:

                      When was the last time you were there?
                      Do you even live in Chicago?
                      Do you even live in Illinois?


                      You gotta love it when someone makes such a definitive statement, based on a minuscule sample-size.

                    2. fromthemitten

                      I repeat: I know more than you do because they don’t let middle schoolers into bars.

                    3. Morken

                      Thanks for proving my point.

                      You don’t even live in the state of Illinois.

                  2. Rebuilding

                    No doubt. My first place was at Sheridan and Irving Park. I would listen to Harry sing the seventh inning stretch on the back porch. Watching the games on TV was weird because given the delay you would hear the roar of the crowd before the pitch was thrown for a Sammy homerun

                    1. jt

                      Sheridan and Irving Park is 3 city blocks from Waveland. A city block is 1/8 of a mile.
                      It takes sound 1.6 seconds to travel 3/8 of a mile.
                      I moved from Chicago in 2005, after Sosa left The Cubs and watched the games on broadcast WGN.
                      I believe broadcast TV travels at the speed of light.
                      The long and short of it is this:
                      I didn’t notice any delays when I lived at 918 Waveland. In fact, it was kind’a cool pointing to Wrigley with one hand for my girl friends little girl and telling her that is that as I pointed to the TV with the other. All the time the organ at the field would be in sync with the organ on the TV as the 1/2 block sound travel would be about 0.25 seconds

                    2. Luke

                      That is very strange, given that live TV events are required to be on the delay of a few seconds by the FCC. No more Superbowl Half Time Peep Shows.

              2. TWC

                Criminy, man. You keep up with your temperance movement, and I’ll keep up with my fashionable alcoholism. You’re like a broken damn record on the booze. Lighten up, Flanders.

                1. Internet Random



  25. Die hard

    Wonder if Thillens Stadium is available?

  26. Die hard

    Devon and Kedzie is centrally located- the Lincolnwood Cubs has a nice sound-I am sure Thillens could be expanded- intriguing and the Ricketts family should look into this

  27. Pat

    “Before we green light the project, we want to know what the deal is,” Ricketts said.

    This is a totally reasonable statement, at yet somehow if the neighborhood feels the same way they are being unreasonable.

    1. Hansman1982

      The neighborhood isn’t spending a half a Freekin billion dollars in the neighborhood.

  28. Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Whispers on Deal Details, The Neighborhood Has Requests, and More | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] you felt about Rick Reilly’s article about the Wrigley Field renovation and the financial importance to the C…, the article mattered because it kept the story in the national attention (or, for some folks, [...]

  29. DONNIE621

    cubfanincardinalland… I like it. Having moved a business out of the loop to the west suburbs in-order to get away from the “Gangsters with badges” I hope Ricketts is seriously thinking about moving his team out of Chicago. There is nothing but advantages for them… the obvious downside is the PR part as you mentioned. As for fans coming out …my God, there are ton’s of people outside of Chicago that would go to games… Can you imagine a venue that is easy to get to with parking spaces (a revenue generator) etc. The Cubs could build hotels and an entertainment venue with all types of things to interest visitors and locals alike. They could build a Cub Theme park… Not being hindered by the “Greedy” would be a born again experience (business wise) for the team. I hope they do it! I’d love it for them to stick it to these guys… but realistically they won’t. Nice to think about though.