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respect wrigleyIf you want further evidence that the Chicago Cubs are not seriously considering a move away from Wrigley Field, here it is …

According to the inimitable Serena Dai at DNAinfo, the Cubs have bent once again, and now say they might be willing to start on some of the Wrigley Field renovations – working on the clubhouse and player facilities, for example – even without a full funding plan in place. Instead, according to VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green, the Cubs are willing to start renovations so long as they have agreement by the City/neighborhood on certain “key items.”

Everyone now acknowledges that a comprehensive deal – including all renovation plans and all funding items (outfield signage, video board, night games, concerts, and street fairs) – is not possible by the Cubs’ self-imposed April 1 deadline. That’s the date by which the Cubs say the need to know things are going to move forward so that they can line up contractors, order materials, etc. in time for next offseason. Previously, the Cubs – and the Mayor – had indicated that no renovations would begin until a comprehensive deal was agreed upon by all interested parties.

Green declined to say which “key items” on which the Cubs will need agreement by Monday in order to move forward, but it seems like some assurances on an increase in night games and on very specific advertising plans would be the minimum. I can’t imagine the Ricketts Family is going to be willing to start writing checks without knowing that they are, for sure, going to have certain important funding mechanisms available to them.

It’s likely that the Cubs simply recognize – and maybe even concede publicly – that, if they aren’t going to leave Wrigley, and if they do want the player facilities upgrades in place by 2014, they may just have to start the process now, even if funding plans aren’t formally approved. Do they lose leverage this way? I suppose a little, but only to the extent that the city or the neighborhood or the politicians actually believed the Cubs might leave in the first place. By all indications, none have bought that threat. In other words, this is probably simply a public acknowledgement of something everyone behind the scenes has already known.

Now, that all said: if the Cubs don’t believe they have support/agreement on the main funding issues by Monday, does this mean they won’t still explore other options? Maybe not. But I also suspect that they’re going to get what they need to announce a renovation plan sometime next week, mooting any further “exploration.”

  • B Robs

    I think it was a mistake for the Cubs to acknowledge this position publicly at this point.

    • Colocubfan

      Absolutely agree 100%!!! Lost any leverage they might have had. (Even if they were bluffing.)

  • Die hard

    Chicago just announced closing of almost 60 public schools and the Mayor has time for this?… If he was seriously engaged with the needs of the City he would tell the Cubs to go and transform the site to public schools needs … Enough room for a K-8 and high school

    • davidalanu

      So, since the city is broke, the mayor shouldn’t pay any attention to an entity that brings millions of dollars in tax revenues?

    • D.G.Lang

      If Chicago heeds another high school, they have a GREAT one available in Harrison Tech at 2850 w 24 st blvd. Former grads are Benny Goodman (jazz Clarinetist) and Arthur Goldberg (U.S.Supreme Court Justice)..

      Several years ago the Board of Education decided to expand another nearby high school, Farragut) and convert Harrison to a middle school.

      Harrison still stands available to be converted back to a High School again.

    • J Wilson

      There’s also the fact Chicago is a warzone. Instead of trying to fix the real problem (culture issues, no fathers, no serious education reform, etc) behind the violence, he and other pols continue to thrash the Constitution by drafting feel-good laws that have never and will never work. I can’t imagine the political morass the Ricketts’ family has to deal with on a daily basis. Let’s just get to Opening Day!

  • Dale’s Ear

    They closed the schools because the city doesn’t generate enough revenue compared to what it spends. The Wrigley renovation will generate revenue and create jobs so it’s important for the city to get it done because they just had to close 60 schools. Maybe you should enroll at one of the one’s that are still open, a high school education is important for everyone in this day and age.

    • Pat

      Actually, they are closing them because city population numbers are back to 1920s levels and there are more schools than are needed. It has little to do with revenue.

    • Die hard

      What’s your excuse?

      • DarthHater

        Those who do not constantly spew sweeping asininities don’t need an excuse.

        • Arkansas

          +1

  • ruby2626

    Ricketts really needs to grow a pair. Rosenbloom was funny on the Score this morning comparing the way Ricketts inherited his money similar to Mike McCaskey. Called him part of the lucky sperm club. Said McCaskey ran the Bears until Virginia sent him to his room. Maybe it’s time for Dad Ricketts to send junior to his room as well, considering the family made almost a billion dollar investment he sure thinks small. If the Cubs are going to stay at Wrigley why has there been no talk of expanding the stadium. Close down Waveland and Sheffield and put a deck, what would that do for the roof top views?

    • Kevin

      Is it just me or does anybody else notice that Tom Ricketts and Mile McCaskey look alike?

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        They also sound alike. The old man needs to step in. If it wasn’t for the old man the kids would be running a bike shop in wilmette.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I don’t put a lot of optimisim in the Cubs statement. Just PR so they don’t appear to be completely drawing a line in the sand and appear as bullies. They are not going to spend a dime unless full funding is in place, that is what the “key items” are.

  • Kevin

    The Cubs can and should make contingent plans for the renovation to start in October. It’s smart business to have all your ducks in order if the city, the 44th ward (Tunney) and the RTO’s to come to their senses and allow the Cubs to run their team as they see fit. I don’t read this article as the Cubs losing any leverage, I read it to actually apply more pressure on Tunney and the RTO’s to reach an agreement with the Cubs within a reasonable amount of time. The Cubs are simply allowing more time for the comprehensive deal to be finalized. The Cubs will not start any revocations until they get everything they want.

  • roz

    Did anyone think they were that serious about moving out of Wrigley to begin with? Isn’t Wrigley pretty much worthless to anyone if the Cubs aren’t playing there?

    • Rcleven

      Not if the property was redeveloped into Commercial (restaurant,office, apartment). Good size chunk of land could be redeveloped to any standard.

  • Voice of Reason

    Why I wouldn’t necessarily mind seeing the Cubs move to a new park, THE CUBS AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!

    The Rickett’s are business people and they know that being in Wrigley Field is just as important as owning the Cubs franchise. That is why they insisted on having Wrigley Field be part of the overall purchase. Originally, the Tribune wanted to sell Wrigley Field separately from the Cubs, but the Rickett’s understand how important the ball park is to the team.

    That said, this is all part of negotiations. Again, this is something business people do.

    The Cubs are demanding a lot and the city is demanding a lot. The two parties will find mutual ground some where in the middle.

    There is no way that the Ricketts will leave Wrigley Field, period, end of story.

    • Rich H

      They did not demand to have Wrigley in the original deal. Zell tried to sell the Cubs and Wrigley separately and had no takers for Wrigley and moved them back together. That is when Ricketts even got in on the process. You can’t go back and say they Demanded them together because Zell was trying to sell Wrigley and even the State of Illinois said no.

  • Grant

    I’m probably just being too optimistic, but maybe a sign of good faith from the Cubs to help move the negotiation process along?

  • Jim

    I love Wrigley, but I personally would love to see a retractable roof ballpark. Living in Indianapolis and seeing basketball games at Lucas Oil Stadium and other events really allows for added revenue. Most importantly would be to see an end to rainouts and winter like games in April.

  • hawkcub

    This seems like a mistake unless they are a lot closer then people think they are. Even then at every turn it seems the Cubs are given in a little more. While it appears the Mayor and Tunney have the attitude maybe they will bend even further if we make no concessions.

  • MightyBear

    I think I’m like most folks who are just getting sick and tired of hearing about this. In the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Just git r done.”

  • medler312

    I love the overstatement from people who believe that moving out of Wrigley is even on the table or discussed. It’s not being discussed…because a move to rosemont is dumb. Why? Rosemont is a dump.

    Btw…retractable roofs? Yikes! I get the move from watching baseball in god ‘s great sun, but not in god’s great air.

    • YourResidentJag

      What???

  • Kyel

    *sigh*

    Darwin Barney with five stitches on his knee, out for Opening Day and more, DL stint possible.

    Lillibridge to the Opening Day lineup. I almost want to say I saw this coming from the day he was signed to a minor league deal, but even I’m not that pessimistic.

  • cedlandrum

    Damn! Barney is going to miss the opener and possibly go on DL. Stitches in Knee.

  • Fastball

    I hope your right. I don’t know how in the Know this source is. Hope she is right. It would seem strange Ricketts would make a statement like this. He has been quiet up til now. He us smarter than that

  • Al Spangler

    Move.

  • Curt

    grrrr, what a cave-in way to hard line Tom again the cubs wuss out. Grow a set Tom I would have expected better from a good businessman .

  • Curt

    Ty mr.tunney may I have another.

  • http://www.sportsdanny.com Dan

    F*** Wrigley – The family screwed up when they refused to threaten when they bought the team-I don’t have season tickets because of the rooftops-I have them for the team

  • Fastball

    I hope the Cubs move!

  • Kevin

    Happy Easter to all and a special thanks to Brett for such a wonderful site for us to enjoy on a daily basis. Brett rules!

  • brian H

    I don’t think renovation of a small portion of the park is going to have any bearing on their ability to move to another site in the future (as long as the upgrades are relatively limited). They already own the park, and whether they move or not, they will want to use the park for something (more concerts, Northwestern football, future home of a Single A cubs team). Of course, it will be sad when then leeches across the street die off…parasites need a more viable host to survive.

  • Diesel

    Too bad they couldn’t move out of Wrigley temporarily and let the rooftops die off as a result. Then when the owners were selling the properties out of desperation, snatch them up for chump change and move back in running the rooftops themselves.

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