1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWYou’ve been waiting for it, whether you wanted it or not. It comes up in every stadium financing, refinancing, or renovation story throughout the history of time.

It’s the threat to move.

For a variety of issues unique to the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, we haven’t seen it yet with respect to the proposed renovation of Wrigley, and the Cubs’ methods for financing those renovations. Indeed, we haven’t seen the threat even as the Cubs struggle to find reasonable support from the Mayor’s Office, the City of Chicago, the Alderman of their neighborhood, and their neighbors, themselves.

Dave Kaplan today reports – an exclusive – that Mayor Brad Stephens of Rosemont, a suburb northwest of the City (by O’Hare International Airport), has offered 25 acres of land to the Ricketts Family to build a new ballpark for the Chicago Cubs.

“The Chicago Cubs are being held hostage by the neighborhood as they look to run their business,” Stephens told Kaplan in a piece that is well worth reading. “We are willing to offer them a tremendous opportunity if they are interested. Bring the bricks and the ivy and we can get a deal done.”

“Rosemont is very pro-development and we have a long history of experience dealing with big business,” Stephens added. “From my position, you have a wealthy family willing to pay all of the costs of a major renovation project, which will bring a tremendous number of jobs to the community. However, they are not getting cooperation from the neighborhood. Even if the Cubs get a deal done now what will happen when they need something else a year or two years down the road? This will not be the last time the community or the Alderman will be difficult to deal with. The Cubs will never have those kinds of problems if they move to Rosemont.”

It sounds to me like Stephens is a Cubs fan who just wants to see a deal done, but, hey, if you can get one of the preeminent sports franchises to drive economic activity to your doorstep, you take your shot. Good for him. If only Chicago felt the same way.

What’s today’s report really about? Maybe it’s just a matter of Kap getting a scoop (it happens with laudable regularity). But the timing of the story, the nature of the quotes, and the convenience that it affords the Cubs is too great a confluence to ignore. If Rosemont was really making a play for the Cubs, I’m not sure an interview with Dave Kaplan was going to be the way to launch a serious bid.

Tom Ricketts is a smart man. He’s known since day one that, when it comes to the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field is the golden goose. He’s also know that pulling out the old “threaten to move”? early in the process would never fly with the extremely, rabidly traditionalistic Cubs fan base.

But now that the City and the neighborhood have proved to be surprisingly intractable, wouldn’t it be convenient to be able to bust out the “threaten to move” card? Doing so yourself in a public statement would be transparent and probably useless – and might alienate a large portion of an already discontented fan base. Tom Ricketts knows this. But would the Cubs, through back-channels, work together with a member of the media and the mayor of a suburb to create the credible pretense of a move?

It certainly is convenient for the Cubs. They now get the “threaten to move” card out in the public sphere without having to anger anyone by actually making the threat. I’m not saying Kap is a mere pawn here (he’s reporting legitimate news) – or the Mayor of Rosemont for that matter. I’m simply saying that these conversations all happen among friends and acquaintances, and ideas are pitched. Guy A talks to Guy B, and an idea for a story with quotes from the Mayor starts to take shape. The Cubs provide some background information when requested, and it all evolves from there. Did the Cubs generate the story? No. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t, on some subterranean level, involved.

Do I think a move for the Cubs out of Wrigley Field is plausible or palatable? I really don’t. The cost savings associated with a move to the suburbs – even if that community foots the entire bill for the stadium (which they have not offered) – could easily be eaten up by the lost value in the old ballpark (Wrigley becomes largely worthless, instead of becoming a billion dollar asset), and reduced attendance. I’m not in a position to speak about the plausibility of regular attendance out in the ‘burbs, but it sure seems like it would take a hit.

Let’s face it: Wrigley Field is special. It’s valuable. It’s important. And a big part of the reason is because of the history and the location. I think the Ricketts Family knows and accepts this reality, even if it puts them in the unenviable position of negotiating without any leverage.

Maybe Kap’s report and Rosemont’s Mayor’s offer helps. I hope it does. But actually moving the Cubs? I don’t think that’s the route to be taken, because I’m not sure it actually helps the Cubs long-term.

I remain open to convincing, though, should this story prove to be more than a modestly clever, but hollow, “threat to move.”

  • Sillyrabbit

    Move and let organize crime be your best friend.

    • SFToby

      Because as we all know, there is no organized crime in Chicago.

      • DarthHater

        Yea, but in Rosemont the Cubs would be able to deal with free-market organized crime, as opposed to government-run organized crime in Chicago. Go free market! 😛

  • Mrcub1958

    Yes! Finally! Fight the machine with fire.

  • hansman1982

    Although, it isn’t from the Cubs, this came out much sooner than I thought.

  • King Jeff

    I hear Cubs fans vehemently deny that they are Cubs fans because of the stadium almost on a daily basis. I am now seeing many of those same people swear that they won’t go watch the Cubs at the new stadium if they move, and won’t care as much about the team. This debate is bringing up some very interesting responses.

  • Brian

    I hope this has some leg to it. Something has to be done to shift the balance.

  • TC

    I work in Rosemont, and it’s a shithole. It’s difficult to get to, rush hour brings impossible traffic, and there isn’t much othern parking garages and office buildings in Rosemont itself.

    As for a semi-reasonable comp for how attendance would be affected – De Paul basketball moved to Rosemont a while back and attendance plummeted. Not the perfect comparison for a bunch of reasons, but it is a thing to consider

    • MXB

      Attendance plummeted for DePaul because they weren’t good and they were way over matched when they were part of Conference USA and now the Big East (coming from a DePaul alumnus). Back when they were competitive (80’s through early 90’s) attendance was good at the ‘Horizon’

      • SFToby

        Even during the years they were bad at the Horizon, they still outdrew the crowds that filled Alumni Hall.

  • Mrcub1958

    Brett, re-reading the article makes you realize how much the Cubs sacrifice to play at Wrigley. You could have 2 million in attendance and have significant more dollars to spend given the offset in revenue streams. TV money is key anyway.
    Who knows, like night baseball doom and gloom of 1988, this ball starts to roll towards it making a lot of sense from many different angles. The city has their hand out and could screw the pooch.
    As a central Illinois 22 year season ticket holder of 6 box seats, I welcome it. Wrigley is a albatross.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com db kyle

    Do I believe it? No.

    Would it be awesome? Yes. Wrigley is a dump.

  • Dale’s Ear

    I’d prefer they just got a deal done to stay in Wrigley, but I wouldn’t hate the idea of the Cubs having a brand new state-of-the-art ballpark with a big parking lot to tailgate in. I live in Wisconsin and I am definitely not a Brewers fan but I go with my buddies all the time in the summer because the parking lot there is a great place to grill out, play some catch, and throw back a few beers that don’t cost $8 a pop before and after the game. That would also allow the team to build whatever training facilities and rehab centers the players would possibly need. I’m not sure how much revenue they would lose because there would be no limits on advertising and the seating capacity could be increased. If the team becomes as competitive as we all hope drawing fans wouldn’t be a problem, and they could have as many night games as they wanted with as many concerts and shows as they’d like. Like I said, I’d really prefer that the “Wrigley Neighbors” wake up and realize how much the team does for that area and let’s the Cubs run their business but if they don’t I could see a lot of benefits from moving.

  • DarthHater

    If they end up having to move, I’d rather see something along the north lakeshore for aesthetic reasons, but the real value of this offer is not the possibility of an actual move to Rosemont, but the possibility that any discussion of a move anywhere lights a little fire under the powers that be in Chicago.

    • D.G.Lang

      If they do have to move, they would be very smart to move out of Chicago so they wouldn’t be targeted for retaliation by the mayor and his union thugs.

      If they move to another location within the city itself, they would still be taxable by the city and wouldn’t benefit from reduced taxes. If they do move away from that area, then that area would suffer a very sizeable loss to the special interests remaining there and then again they could possibly suffer retaliation via increased taxes or other ‘special assessments’..

      If they do decide to move, it would be best to stick with that decision rather than accept some concessions from the city and then be subjected to increased taxes and other ‘special assessments’ or levies (taxes) from the city with no ability to move out.

      If the city finally lets them run their business in the manner they need to run it and the city is reluctantly forced to let them do so, then they (the Cubs) should absolutely be concerned about new restrictions or taxes after they invest heavily and can’t simply move out without losing that heavy investment. I don’t see the city giving them any breaks without strings attached such as a contract preventing them from moving out.

  • Dan

    Either make Wrigley into a world class stadium, or build one elsewhere. Option A is preferred, but if the city won’t let the Ricketts family run their business then good riddance. The first priority is to win and Wrigley Field in its current state is hindering that possibility.

    • Karen P

      Well said. I’ve read pretty much all the comments and I think yours is the most succinct and accurate.

  • Medler312

    Cubs move to Rosemont and it’s 1950s attendance numbers for the Cubs. Not saying it’s right, but it’s the truth. Part of the patience on the part of Cub fans is at least we are guaranteed a good time at Wrigley.

    Here’s my argument against a move out of chicago…Rosemont blows.

    I’ll still support the Cubs, but watching baseball in that nowhere land as planes scrape the stadium every 5 minutes to land at O’Hara would be nothing short of awful.

    • Dale’s Ear

      I’m sure if the Cubs decided to move they would do their research on a good location. I have a hard time seeing a reason why any area in the suburbs wouldn’t want them. Also I’m not sure how Wrigley guarantees a good time unless you really like shitty food, no parking, uncomfortable seats, and stale beer. Don’t get me wrong, I have some great memories from some times at Wrigley, but I haven’t been there in years and I haven’t even looked up the pricing for tickets because I already know they’re too expensive.

    • D.G.Lang

      I agree with you concerning the noise. I worked for Centel in the O’hare Plaza office building just south of Higgens road and east of River Road. There were huge airplanes flying directly overhead when coming in for a land and when that happened, the entire building would shake. Sometimes the noise was so bad it would hurt my ears. I suffered nerve damage in my ears when in the Army about 45 years ago so I am a little more sensitive than most other people but others often complained about the noise and shaking.

  • Spencer

    The Cubs aren’t going anywhere. I doubt this will even expedite the process. Without Wrigley, the value of the Cubs (and by extension the Ricketts’ investment) decreases dramatically. This will freak everyone out for an afternoon, and that’s about it.

    • MXB

      Not that I think it’ll happen, but the Ricketts would probably gain more money by tearing down Wrigley and selling the land.

    • aCubsFan

      I don’t get the thinking that the team with a brand new state of the art stadium would have less value than what they are currently in.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I, for one, wouldn’t care if they moved out of Wrigley. Even with a deep love for Wrigley, they can’t keep getting shafted. Find someplace to build a new stadium and go there. Hell, if it brings a championship, I’m all for it.

    • CUB%

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      Though I would love to be in the meeting if the Cubs dropped that bombshell and watch all of the people who profit off of them as they get the news. Then maybe some reasonable concessions wouldn’t have sounded so bad…

  • TonyE79

    Rosemont is becoming a pretty nice area to hang out. I know TC doesn’t like the traffic in Rosemont, but getting to Wrigley from the western burbs is ipossible for those week day night games. I can get to Miller Park faster. It would be interesting to say the least.

  • another JP

    I love this news since it makes the city aware that the Cubs have other options. As much as I enjoy Wrigley I’d watch them in Rosemount if I had to.

  • Craig

    I don’t get the argument that attendance would go down. Milwaukee has a beautiful new ballpark that is consistently full even several years after opening it in a very small market. I would think a beautiful new ballpark in a much larger market would have no attendance troubles, especially if the Cubs put a half way decent product on the field. I’m sure an awful lot of their suburban fans would love not having to drive into the city with limited parking

    • Wilbur

      Fans will follow the team, and the more successful the team, the more fans. Besides if the Cubs owned a large amount of surface parking around a new, larger stadium as they likely would two new revenue streams open up – more fans and parking money. I wonder how many entrepreneurs in Wrigleyville would enjoy losing their summer parking revenue.

      That said, the Wrigley deal get’s done because everyone wantis it to get done and the Rosemont Mayor get’s some free marketing for his burg and its interest in any business going there.

      It doesn’t get done only if someone get’s really stupid/greedy and makes some sort of win/win impossible. In the interim the Cubs could lose part of a renovation season and money, but that’s just part of the deal and pressure on them.

  • TD

    Pretty sure a move and a new ball park would take care of the goat curse……

  • Staple gunner

    Isn’t Rosemont east of O’hare?

    Also, Ricketts could probably move Wrigley brick by brick. Bring the history out of town.

    And, Blue line goes there, so no new infrastructure needed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, Rosemont is east of O’Hare – I think you may have misread that line.

      The Blue Line, alone, wouldn’t take care of infrastructure issues, I’d imagine (but that’s not at all my forte).

      • aCubsFan

        Brett…I believe you are mistaken. There is a lot of infrastructure in place. I believe you should check out http://www.rosemont.com/pdf/map_rosemont09.pdf.

        There is an westbound off ramp at Lee Street on I-90. There are plenty of on- and off-ramps along I-294 (north and south) that dump into Rosemont. There are on- and off-ramps on I-190 that dump into Rosemont. The Cumberland Ave exits on I-90 are a short trip into Rosemont.

        The North Central service of Metra has a stop at O’Hare and Rosemont and connects to the Milwaukee District West service that runs from Elgin to Union Station. Additionally, there is plenty of Pace bus service that runs all around O’Hare and Rosemont.

        With the Elgin-O’Hare Western Bypass there will be additional interchanges and methods to get into Rosemont.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I said only that the Blue Line isn’t what takes care of the infrastructure (speaking from Red Line experience). That’s all I know about – I don’t claim to have any knowledge about the driving experience.

    • aCubsFan

      No! Rosemont village limits has a portion east of O’Hare and I-294, but the village is also west of I-294 in the same north-south plane as O’Hare on the north side of O’Hare.

  • Coal

    The value of the real estate that Wrigley sits on is non-trivial. If the Cubs moved, between selling the Wrigley parcel, better terms on stadium revenues, and better stadium revenues to begin with (TV, advertising, luxury boxes, personal seat licenses, sponsorships, etc.) they could handle a drop in attendance.

    I love Wrigley, but the argument to preserve it “at all costs” is getting harder and harder to justify with every passing week, especially when you really look at in in black and white.

    The rooftops and Tunney ought to be ashamed of themselves for the in your face greed that got us all here. The fact that they aren’t makes the move to the burbs an increasingly acceptable outcome for me – a Cubs fan, Wrigley fan and neighborhood resident.

    Tunney and the rooftop owners are about to write the most ignominious chapter in Cubs history.

    Good fodder for the next wave in the scandal series!

  • SFToby

    Since there’s a lot of neghbors that don’t like to bother of living next to a ballpark, even though they knew in advance that it was there when they invested in a home close to a ballpark, the Cubs should be good neighbors and help them out and move.

  • Mr. Mac

    I love Wrigley, but I wholeheartedly support them moving. It is absurd that it has even gotten to this point with Tunney and the neighborhood.

  • Peter

    I wish they would move to rosemont, as a TRUE Cubs fan, I could not give a shit about the ballpark. If they played in the ugliest dome known to man but were going to the playoffs every year I would be doing back flips, fuck wrigley, old piece of shit ballpark which is nothing more than a glorified taint bucket.

  • DarthHater

    I sure hope Beth Murphy makes some good money selling rooftop seats to watch Wrigley being torn down!

  • Dale’s Ear

    I’m pretty surprised at how open everyone is to this idea. Brett should probably send this comment feed to the Cubs, if they know that fans are down with the idea of moving then that would give this threat some serious credibility and give the team more leverage.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not sure the comments here are a representative sample of Cubdom … but I’d be surprised if they didn’t have someone reviewing them, on this issue in particular.

      • DarthHater

        As an entirely typical Cubs fan, I am highly offended by this remark.

        • hansman1982

          I am offended by your presence every day, but that never stops you!

          I think many fans are just sick of the Cubs not getting public funds (like every other team in the city) and then not being able to do what they want/need to inside the park with their own money. The money that will, ultimately, flow through the neighborhood and city.

          Basically, the Golden Goose is asking for a little more feed to make 10 eggs a day instead of 9, the farmer says no. The Goose then asks to just be put outside for a few hours a day to find it’s own feed and then the owner fences off a sandpit for the Goose to find the feed.

          • DarthHater

            Thank’s, hans. Unfortunately, I cannot reciprocate since I am not offended by gratuitous assholishness.

      • Dale’s Ear

        Definitely a small sample size when considering the cubs are followed all over the country, but still it is intriguing to see so many fans open to moving. A new ballpark would likely erk more older fans than younger ones, I happen to know if I personally even broached the idea to my dad or any of his brothers I would get euthanized. I love Wrigley’s history and all the tradition, but idk maybe it’s time to start some new traditions.

        • DarthHater

          Not sure how old you mean. I’m 54 and I love Wrigley, but I’m more concerned about seeing the Cubs win the Series before I die than I am about preserving a stadium with a lot of tradition.

          • Dale’s Ear

            I meant fans older than 50 lol. But that’s refreshing to read, I just know that my dad and uncles are all over 50 and they’re pretty into the whole tradition thing with everything they do especially the Cubs. Didn’t mean any disrespect if you felt some I was just generalizing.

            • DarthHater

              No, no disrespect taken. I get my supply of that from hansman. 😛

          • D.G.Lang

            I totally agree with you. I have been a Cubs fan my entire life and even when I was away in the Army, I still listened to every Cubs game that I could. My father and I used to go fishing almost every weekend during the summer and we always listened to the Cubs game even when we were in northern Minnesota or Wisconsin.

            The point being that as long as I can watch the team on TV or listen to them on the radio, I am happy. I don’t need to go to Wrigley to be a fan and in fact since I now live in Florida it makes no difference to me where they play only that they are successful.

            I am now 68 years old and want to see the Cubs be successful while I am still alive to rejoice in it.

  • Chris84

    Strictly due to my proximity to Rosemont (I live in the Edison Park neighborhood, deep in Firefighter country on the Northwest Side), I would love the convenience. A bike ride to the Harlem stop on the Blue Line would make my attending Cubs games slightly easier (not by much, but easier none-the-less).

    As a fan of not just baseball, but also history and tradition, I hate the idea of the Cubs moving to the burbs. Primarily, because that would be one more thing Sox fans could hang over our heads. “We’re the real Chicago baseball team.”

    Obviously, it won’t happen, but a renovated Wrigley in the city proper is far more appealing to me than a stadium in Rosemont (and that has nothing to do with my distaste for Rosemont).

  • OCCubFan

    Based on my experiences in the Middle East and East Asia, when bargaining you must convince the other side that you are willing to walk away from the deal. Otherwise, you get a lousy deal.

  • Steve

    Even though it’s an improbability, I like it. Rosemont is just about as easy to get to as Wrigley, given the Blue Line and Pace. So long as it’s near some form of public transportation, I’m supportive.
    However I do have to question whether 25 acres will be enough. I’m pretty sure Miller Park was built on around 260 acres, and with the stadium and parking lots, it sure seems to fill all 260 acres (I haven’t been up there in awhile, so correct if I’m wrong).

    • Pat

      That was my question as well. 25 acres seems way too small for a stadium and the required parking. Plus I think the fights overhead would be annoying. However, unlike most other suburban suggestions, the infrastructure is there to support the traffic (although it would suck), and there aren’t many homeowners in the business area to annoy. My other question regards noise ordinances. Right now Allstate Arena faces huge fines for noise after 11, and it might be 10 on weekdays. It could come into play for extra inning games.

    • aCubsFan

      25 acres in Rosemont is a lot of land. Parking lots don’t have to be the limestone runways they can and are often highrise structures, which can be used for other elements such as back drops to a ball park, etc. Furthermore, with the convention center, Rosemont Horizon and all the other venues in Rosemont there is plenty of available parking. Also, with a lot of public transportation available I don’t believe you would need as much packing space as you might think.

      • Pat

        For new construction, availability of public transit, or lack thereof, isn’t considered. It’s occupancy times a set multiplier. I didn’t consider multi-level garages, but those would be a nightmare when a game was letting out.

        • aCubsFan

          Like a gravel parking lot with cars parked on top of one another isn’t a nightmare to get out of after a game. It doesn’t matter what type of parking you have at an event location it is always going to be difficult to exit all at one time at the end of the event.

    • King Jeff

      25 Acres = 1,089,000 Sq Feet

      Wrigley Field=108,000 sq. ft.

      Miller Park = 1,200,000-square-foot ( I think the extra space was freeway reconstruction, parking lots, and such)

  • SFToby

    I’d still rather see a land swap of Wrigley land for Portage Park instead of moving to Rosemont, but seriously, the Cubs need to run their business just like the other clubs.

    • Chris84

      The ten year old version of me loves you for suggesting a land swap with Portage Park. That’s “the old neighborhood.”

  • Rich H

    This is almost as funny as my idea of a handing Rahmmy a lease agreement. Now a prospective agreement is out in the media and Ricketts hands are clean. Brilliant move.