As expected, yesterday’s story from Dave Kaplan about the Mayor of Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago, offering a large tract of land to the Ricketts Family to move the Cubs out of Chicago generated a great deal of discussion.
To my mind, while I found the story as a conversation-piece interesting, I had a hard time seeing the offer as anything more than a creative way for the Cubs to make the “threat to move” without having to actually make that threat.
It seems that the Mayor’s Office agrees. And it doesn’t see that threat as all that credible.
A top mayoral aide, speaking because the Mayor was on spring break (two quips: (1) is he the mayor of college?; (2) they don’t have phones or Internet in “spring break”?), told the Sun-Times that “the idea that the Cubs would leave Wrigley Field is not something to be taken seriously.”
I can almost see the aide stifling a laugh as he/she constructed that response. Which, of course, lies at the heart of the way the Cubs have been treated by the City throughout this process. It’s an unfortunate reality, but the City knows the Cubs aren’t leaving, so there is very little incentive to bend to accommodate the Cubs’ reasonable requests (or to lean on Alderman Tunney to get a deal done). The only real pressure point the Cubs have right now is the fact that the renovation will create jobs and tax revenue for the City, all without costing the City a dime. That looks great for Mayor Emanuel, and the Cubs should keep beating that drum – publicly and privately.
Ricketts Family spokesman Dennis Culloton addressed the Rosemont story by emphasizing that the focus, for now, is working to stay at Wrigley Field.
“The family appreciates the expressions of interest from Rosemont and others, however, the current focus is to work toward an agreement with the city of Chicago,” Culloton said, per the Sun-Times.
Of course, Culloton made sure not to unequivocally close any doors, since that wouldn’t exactly help the leverage equation.
“Tom Ricketts has no intention of talking to the mayor of Rosemont before Opening Day,” Culloton added. “Right now, the answer is ‘no.’ I cannot predict the future.”
The mention of Opening Day is fairly significant, given that Ricketts has said that is the date by which he feels an approved renovation plan (and funding plan) needs to be in place for construction to begin following the 2013 season. If no plan is in place by then, maybe the “threat to move” becomes just a tiny bit less laughable.