While the Chicago Cubs baseball team readies itself to take on the Pirates in Pittsburgh today, the Chicago Cubs business team is trying to finalize a deal that would ultimately provide the funding necessary for the Cubs to officially begin the process of renovating Wrigley Field. The interested parties are apparently at the table as we speak, working feverishly to bang out the parameters of an agreement.
The Cubs have set today – Opening Day – as the deadline to have, at a minimum, certain key aspects of an agreement with the City, the neighborhood, the rooftops, and any other required parties in place. The deadline exists, the Cubs say, because they need to start ordering supplies and arranging for contractors now in order to be ready to break ground as soon as the season ends.
According to Theo Epstein, speaking to the media in Pittsburgh (Patrick Mooney, for example), said that his understanding is that today’s deadline is not a soft one. In other words, if a deal is not finalized today, the player facilities that have been promised to the baseball side – presumably that includes the batting cages, the new clubhouse, exercise facilities, medical facilities (i.e., all the stuff that helps the players) – will not be in place for the 2014 season.
“I think [the renovation is] fundamentally important to get us to the next level as an organization,” Epstein said, per Paul Sullivan. “We have a baseball plan and we have a business plan, and they’re timed to sync up with one another, they’re inter-dependant.
“And if we don’t get our Wrigley renovation done in a timely manner and done the right way, then we can’t accomplish our business objectives and that will certainly get in the way of us ultimately accomplishing our baseball objectives, so it’s very important.”
Dave Kaplan adds that, if a deal isn’t done today, the Ricketts Family is expected to start exploring non-Wrigley options for the future. (Though Kaplan makes sure to note that actually leaving Wrigley Field is viewed as a “long shot,” even if the negotiations fall apart today.)
We will probably hear more on this after today’s game. As I’ve said, if we hear the usual spin – “We’re working toward an agreement, we’re optimistic, blah blah blah” – that means a deal is essentially done, with only perfunctory rubber stamping left to go. If, instead, we hear contentious things, that means a deal was not reached, posturing continues, and the Cubs really might start trying to figure out another approach.