If 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.”