respect wrigleyWhile 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.

  • Dave

    Playing a season in Milwaukee (or perhaps splitting “home” games between Miller and the Cell) seems a lot more likely than Rosemont. I have a feeling this is going to drag on through the spring.

    • Brett

      I hope you’re wrong about the latter part (though I have my fears). I totally agree about the first point – seems like playing a season or two away from Wrigley is a much more credible and actionable threat.

      • Patrick W.

        Point of order…. if that happens can I take credit for being first to suggest it, or was I just piling on? I just need to know for when I tell my wife what a genius/idiot I am.

        • Brett

          Well, the rub is going to be in the time line. The Cubs, themselves, suggested it last year. I wrote some things about it a year or two ago. When did you suggest it?

          I do know that you’ve been very consistent about it, and were the first here to re-suggest it as a credible threat. You’ve for sure earned credit there.

          • Patrick W.

            Eh… I’ll go with idiot :)

            (I sincerely hope that point of order was taken in the exact way I meant it, a sarcastic poke at my tendency to point out the obvious)

  • Chef

    I would fully support a move to Rosemont/Will Co/etc. I love Wrigley, but…..

  • Leroy

    Why set a hard deadline if they are still going to work on it more in the future? That seems moot to me. I don’t know. I understand Theo’s motive, but don’t say it’s a hard deadline if it really isn’t.

  • Cheryl

    It must be a hard deadline imo because if they look like they’re going to give in on this it will affect everything they do in regard to negotiating with others. If there’sno agreement by today I fully expect the cubs to explore other horizons.

  • cubmig

    Cubs are in first place. Why move? Think of the backlash that will happen if they move a winning team? ……………………………………………………………………………………..[snark]

  • AndyRussell299

    While it’s hard to imagine the Cubs playing anywhere but Wrigley, I can’t help but think what a nice new shiny ball park might be like. I’m sure it would have that great new ball park smell to it, along with all the other great amenities that with it. Maybe we could have the crooked politician race?

    If the Cubs aren’t getting the support to do what they need to, I’m all for them going somewhere where they will. Let’s see how long Alderman Tunney stays in office after the Cubs leave town, or how long the roof tops stay in business after there are no games for them to watch.

  • Doc

    I know the Cubs get a percentage of the revenue that the roof top owners take in. I wonder how honest the owners are with the Cubs. They might be as honest as the folks who count the ballots in a Chicago election. The Cubs should take a hard line on the issue of remodeling verses moving and see if Tom Tunney and his cronies will do the right thing by the Cubs. This should be a business decision and not one based on sentimentality. If the Cubs move out of Wrigley, the roof top owners won’t be the only ones who get hurt. Look at all the restaurants, bars etc. that depend on the fans. Tom Tunney, do you want it in your legacy that you destroyed Wrgleyville?