respect wrigleyWhen the Cubs’ self-imposed April 1 deadline in Wrigley renovation talks was looming, my thought was that, if the deadline came and passed without a deal, we’d hear one of two responses: (1) more posturing and angry spin, or (2) blah-blah “we’re still talking, making progress” stuff. I said that, if it was the latter, I’d feel confident that a deal was close. And, now that number two is exactly what’s happened, I guess I have to stand by that: I believe a deal is probably pretty close.

Yesterday’s deadline came and went without a deal, but the Cubs, the neighborhood, and the City are still engaged in talks – they are coming back to the table today – because all sides believe enough progress was made by yesterday to justify continued discussions.

To re-set: the Ricketts Family is willing to pay for much-needed renovations to Wrigley Field themselves, so long as certain funding mechanisms are made available to them. Those mechanisms include more ads in the ballpark, a JumboTron, more night games, more concerts, and street fairs. Rooftop buildings surrounding Wrigley Field fear that more ads and a JumboTron would block their views and kill their business, and some neighborhood residents have concerns about more night games and various unsavory things that accompany them. The neighborhood’s Alderman Tom Tunney is leading discussions on behalf of the neighborhood and the rooftops, and has been the primary roadblock to getting a deal done (so far). It’s actually a whole lot more nuanced than all of that, but you’ve got the gist of where things stand.

  • Sources tell NBC Chicago that the sides agreed to push the deadline back to April 8, which is the home opener at Wrigley Field (wouldn’t that have always made sense as an announcement date?).
  • Alderman Tunney sounded far more upbeat and less political than he’s seemed in virtually every other statement he’s made on the subject. “I think there’s reasonableness on all sides, but we’re not there yet,” Tunney told the Tribune. “We’re going to hopefully meet tomorrow again.”
  • According to Dave Kaplan’s sources, the Cubs are willing to do what is needed with respect to parking and police protection, but they’re holding firm on their demands for in-stadium advertising and a JumboTron. The Cubs would also like to end these discussions in such a way that, in the future, there aren’t so many hoops to jump through when the Cubs want to get something done with the ballpark.
  • The Sun-Times’ version of this story has a source – and, if it’s in the Sun-Times, it’s a mayoral source – saying that staying at the table to negotiate today was done at the Mayor’s request. If the Mayor really wants the side to get a deal done, at some point it’s going to require him actually doing something, and leaning on the appropriate people get an agreement in place. I know Emanuel wants to remain as hands off as possible, but he can’t act as though he’s got no dog in the fight on one hand, and then tout the success of a $500 million, privately-funded project in Chicago on his watch on the other hand.
  • The Sun-Times source, by the way, said he/she didn’t know what would happen after today in discussions, which stands in contrast to the NBC Chicago report of a new April 8 deadline.
  • ncsujuri

    I wondered about the ‘deadline’ of opening day v. home opener as well…

  • Wilbur

    I believe the term deadline originates back to cival war prisoner of war camps where a line was laid on the ground that if anyone crossed would result in the prisoner being shot, no warning given. Thus, the name and the connotation that if the line (i.e., date) were crossed the person (i.e., deal was dead).

    It is obviously an incredibly over worked term that get’s way too much play in business verbiage and the press. Deadlines only exist if the declaring party truly will walk from the deal if it’s not completed as defined by date declared. Otherwise, it’s just a negoated item or term as is every other detail of a business deal.

    • Ryan

      I thought it was German for “a whales vagina”…

  • OCCubFan

    In the first paragraph, Brett writes “number two is exactly what’s happened…” That’s been the story all along.

    • Dave

      :) Nice!

    • Brett

      Ha. Snap.

    • JoeyCollins

      Had the exact same thought.

  • North Side Irish

    FWIW, Tunney is getting pressure from the Republicans as well…

    “Republican Ward Committeeman Scott Davis of Lakeview is questioning the judgement of Alderman Tom Tunney.

    Davis said the Alderman needs to get his priorities straight or consider stepping down. “Keeping the Cubs at Wrigley Field demands Alderman Tunney’s full attention and Lakeview residents should question his judgment now that the deadline has passed. Securing the Cubs future at Wrigley is too important for the community, the City and for Cubs fans everywhere to put at risk.”

    • Brett

      Well how about that. Sounds like Davis is gunning for a new job. :)

      • noisesquared

        Definitely a politically motivated piece, but Davis hits the nail on the head in the last quote of the article (in regards to the rooftops):

        Davis closed by saying, “Alderman Tunney and the City should get out of the way and let the Cubs run with their plan to add scoreboards and advertising as they see fit. Rooftop owners can adjust their businesses to fit the Wrigleyville marketplace, not the other way around.”

  • Jim

    Chicago politics (and media) at its finest…

    • Nomar’s Left Glove

      tongue in cheek…

  • Matt Beemsterboer

    Am I the only person who thinks a Jumbo Tron of any size would ruin Wrigley’s mystique? I hated the right field board last year but it’s small enough to be forgivable. The renderings of a 3,000 sq ft board in left make it look like a big fricking eye sore.

    • DarthHater

      Brett’s rendering was of a 6,000 sq ft board, which is what the Cubs are pushing for. The city is pushing for a limit of 3,000 sq ft. I haven’t seen any renderings of that size. I’m sure it would still be a jolt to the sensibilities of Wrigley traditionalists, but it would only be half as big an eyesore.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      +1. I have plenty of stats, I don’t want replays, and god knows I’m already inundated with advertising. It was recently established that revenue is not an issue for the most profitable team in MLB, and the reported $30MM should not be a prerequisite to having a competitive team.

      The looser in all of this is the fan who likes watching baseball without electronic screens in front of them,

      • DarthHater

        The fact that one source reported that the Cubs had the biggest profit of any team last year may mean that they don’t face any immediate financial hardships, but it does not “establish[] that revenue is not an issue” for the team going forward.

        • hansman1982

          “The fact that one source reported ”

          The fact that one source estimated…


          • Kyle

            I believe there was a second source that said the same thing in Wittenmeyer’s article, though vague about who exactly that source was.

            • hansman1982

              Damnit…so I’m gonna have to actually give Wittenmeyer a page view?

              • Brett

                I believe what it was is that Kenney allegedly said last year at a private meeting that the Cubs (in 2011) were the most profitable team in baseball.

        • Hee Seop Chode

          Tampa rays 2012 payroll: $65.1MM
          Cubs 2012 payroll: $110MM-112MM (per Brett)

          So again, why is a new $30MM of revenue a prerequisite to be competitive? Or even competitive long term?

      • Chet Masterson

        “The looser in all of this is the fan who likes watching baseball without electronic screens in front of them”

        I totally agree! I would also like to say that the losers are ALSO people who like to watch sports in animal costumes. Let’s not forget people who believe that the moon is made of cheese. Those are similar demographics who are getting hosed on this deal.

        When will Rickett$ starting thinking about that .01% of fans! Damn him!

  • MDel

    I’ve long felt the “April 1 Deadline” was really an April 8 deadline. I assumed the Cubs would like to benefit from approved changes as soon as possible, which would include putting up additional signage this year. For maximum financial return, those signs should be up before the first home game. The value would certainly decrease as there are less games and (while I hope this isn’t the case) as those games become less meaningful.

    IMO the biggest issue all along is the Cubs paying for this renovation themselves, which they feel is the biggest bargaining chip. While I agree, that really isn’t a benefit to Tunney or the rooftops. My assumption is that wasn’t much of a consideration in his negotiations with the Cubs. The Cubs, rightfully so, kept pushing the ‘whole package’ argument because it was a big deal that shouldn’t be ignored.

    At the end of the day, this wasn’t going to get done until the Mayor stepped in, and it still might not unless the Cubs are willing to hold to a hard deadline and starting making real threats (Rosemont, a year in Milwaukee, etc.) Here’s hoping we can start focusing on what is on the field in the next week.

    • Chris84

      I’m not much of a fan of jumbotrons either, but you know what I dislike more than jumbotrons? Losing. If putting in a jumbotron helps the Cubs improve their player facilities and put a better product on the field, put one in that stretches from left field all the way to right field. I just want to see the Cubs win a World Series at Wrigley in my lifetime.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        Cubs estimated 2012 revenue: $274MM
        Tampa Bay Rays 2012 revenue: $167MM

        Cubs 2012 wins: 61
        Rays 2012 wins: 90

        Why do people insist a bit bright sign in left field is a prerequisite to making the playoffs? This seems like another case of facts getting in the way…

        • DarthHater

          “This seems like another case of facts getting in the way…”

          Correct, it’s a perfect example of a couple cherry-picked and largely irrelevant facts getting in the way of a meaningful analysis.

          • Hee Seop Chode

            What meaningful analysis?

            • DarthHater

              Cheap Internet Tactic #3,976: What meaningful analysis?

              I don’t have to provide my own analysis in order to recognize when someone else’s analysis is not meaningful.

              If you want to present a meaningful analysis then you have to avoid things like: drawing sweeping conclusions about revenue streams from bits of data reflecting only a single point in time; comparing the revenue needs of teams in drastically different markets without regard to their non-payroll expenses, debt levels, etc. If you’re going to do stuff like that, other people are going to point out the flaws. Responding by saying “Of yeah, then where’s your own meaningful analysis?” is just a form of evasion.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Try this analysis.
              March 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink | Reply
              It’s close-ish.

              To get to net profit you’d also have to remove taxes and interest expenses.

              Interest from the $580M would be around $16M, that leaves $16M taxable.

              $8M to the DR plus a portion of the $15M they are paying for the Arizona facility.

              At the end of the day, we are talking about (again, assuming Forbes numbers are correct) $5-7M unaccounted for.

              March 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply
              $5-7M “unaccounted for” being the max, if we are to use the Forbes numbers as gospel.

              • hansman1982

                I’ve been quoted by Tim…

                I can now die.

          • Hee Seop Chode

            In what way is that irrelevant? It factually demonstrates my point; teams can ba and are competitive with payrolls under $140MM

            • Kyle

              Your point is rather pointless. Nobody cares about what “can” happen. We care about what is most likely to happen.

              • Chet Masterson

                Totally. The Rays won the MLB lottery. I would say Hee Seop Chode forgets the Rays had the following draft picks in ’99 – ’08
                1, 6, 3, 2, 1, 4, 8, 3, 1, 1

                That’s a decade of top 8 picks.

                During that same stretch, the Cubs have had
                26, 3, 2, 21, 6, 20, 13, 3, 19 (the Cubs had no 1st rounder in ’04 courtesy of LaTroy Hawkins)

                Kudos to the Rays for being terrible for a decade, which was long enough to stockpile talent. Kudos to the Rays for also getting incredibly lucky with a lot of that talent turning out incredibly well.

        • mul21

          Can you cook a gourmet dinner for four on a $30 budget? Probably. Can you much more easily cook a gourmet meal for four, making last minute adjustments, having a wider variety on the menu, and better tasting food for $60? Definitely. That’s what the Cubs are going for.

        • Rebuilding

          The Rays are a terrible comp for the Cubs and aren’t really relevant in analyzing this front office at all. By necessity they have to do everything differently than a big market team. They’ve done it brilliantly and I’ll be honest Friedman would have been my first choice to be our GM, but there is no way you can compare Theo and Jed to him until 5+ years have passed

  • aCubsFan

    Seven days is a big deal in construction so I don’t see how waiting until April 8th’s home opener helps the Cubs when it comes to ordering construction materials and getting a construction plan in place. There must have been enough movement on the topics to give the Cubs some level of comfort a deal can be done and allow the deadline to be moved to April 8th, if that is true.

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      I would imagine the Cubs have already talked to construction people and know what the ‘drop dead’ date really is. I’m wondering if they have blueprints ready.

      • aCubsFan

        In order to have created the renderings that have been presented since the Cubs convention require blueprints to have been completed at the same time. There is a 8 -16 week lead time for construction materials like structural steel, doors, etc. But unless the Cubs have already put the project out for bid, the bidding process for both general and sub contractors is a long process, which adds to the lead time — and building materials will not be ordered until the general contractor has been hired and construction dates have been set.

        • hansman1982

          They are moving forward on a couple of items, probably the items that could be realistically completed between 2013 and 2014 and that needed the biggest lead time.

        • TWC

          “In order to have created the renderings that have been presented since the Cubs convention require blueprints to have been completed at the same time.”

          I can assure you that this is not even remotely true.

          The conceptual drawings likely required a rudimentary (software) model to be built in order to get an accurate rendering of the scenes, including lighting, orientation, scaling, etc. But a full set of buildable CDs? Absolutely not. It would take a firm many, many months — and cost the Cubs many, many dollars — to produce a set of CDs detailing the complete set of the proposed renovations. Why would the Cubs pay for all that work if 1) the renovation isn’t approved, 2) for much of the process funding was an issue, and 3) due to 1 & 2, the scope of work isn’t clearly defined?

          • aCubsFan

            Depends on the situation. Yes, in some cases simple models can be generated to develop renderings for renovations. However, the video that accompanied the renderings and was part of Cubs convention showed an extreme amount of detail as moving of plumbing and electrical. While general placement doesn’t need a lot of dimensional data to generate the renderings, the level of detail in the video and the renderings suggests construction drawings/blueprints had been generated.

            Furthermore, if the Cubs want phase one of the project (i.e. the under ground clubhouse, the new batting cages, and replacement of the 3rd base stands started in October and completed by April of 2014, they can’t wait to start developing blueprints and construction plans until the deal is in place. They’ve actually been created and more than likely going through the permitting process on the “down low” for some time now because the building department needs to review them before permits are granted and you can’t wait until the deal is complete, or GC and subs are hired to do this because it is as time consuming as creating the drawings. And, there is a compressed time line to get the project completed.

            If the Cubs waited until the deal is in place to have architects to create a full set of construction drawings, get them approved by the city, hire the GC, purchase construction materials they wouldn’t start on the renovations until 2014.

            • TWC

              Oh, I think it’s very likely that work is occurring on the Wrigley renovation construction drawings *right now*, and had been before the convention, and will continue throughout the summer. I just take issue with the idea that these “blueprints” are in any way “completed”.

              You’re probably quite correct that the underground/under-field work is pretty far along in the documentation process. The reason, of course, is that none of the neighborhood/public-input bullshit that’s been delaying the final agreement between all the parties has any direct impact on those elements.

              “[T]he video that accompanied the renderings and was part of Cubs convention showed an extreme amount of detail as moving of plumbing and electrical.”

              I haven’t seen the video, only the still renderings. Those alone didn’t give me the impression that they were overly complicated. I should try to track down the video.

              “They’ve actually been created and more than likely going through the permitting process on the “down low” for some time now …”

              While I’m sure there has been informal reviews within many City departments (initiated by the Cubs), I cannot believe there is a “down low” building permit review. Building permit are public records. As soon as an application is filed, that application for building permits are accessible online, and there’s nothing in the Chicago Dept. of Buildings database for the last 18 months outside of some temporary concert permits and minor electrical work (and some other small misc. stuff).

      • wvcubsfan

        “I’m wondering if they have blueprints ready.”

        I can promise you they don’t have blueprints ready. Mainly because no one uses blueprints anymore. I’d actually be really surprised if there’s more than one functioning blueprint machine in Chicago.

        • aCubsFan

          You’re right blueprints are for the most part dead, but the construction drawings, while not the true sense of the word blueprints any more, the term is still used in the trades.

          But detailed drawings for the renovation have been created.

        • King Jeff

          I live in South Florida, and have worked construction for the last 5 summers here, and I can tell you that blueprints are not dead. It might be different up there, but every job I’ve been on here, has several sets of blueprints, and yes they are actually blue prints, not construction drawings.

          • TWC


            South Florida must be where old diazo print machines go to die. (Much like elderly residents of the Northeast

  • Mrcub1958

    Matt B, you are not the only person. Respectfully, they’re are too many Wrigley Field fans out there. They let their nostalgia for a decaying facility cloud support for the Chicago National League Ballclub being allowed to maximize revenue in order to increase the probability of a WS winner in our lifetime.

  • cubsin

    Quote: I know Emanuel wants to remain as hands off as possible, but he can’t act as though he’s got no dog in the fight on one hand, and then tout the success of a $500 million, privately-funded project in Chicago on his watch on the other hand.

    Of course he can – he’s a politician. This approach will let him blame Tunney if the Cubs relocate, while he’ll be first in line to jump in front of the cameras if a deal goes through.

    • Brett

      You’re quite right. I suppose I meant “can’t” in the “I won’t allow it in my commentary” sense, not in the “literally cannot be accomplished” sense.

      • Tom A.

        Politics are never pretty. For example, let’s assume Mr. Tunney is using his political clout in these negotiations to benefit his wallet through the restaurants he owns. What happens to him, nothing Lokely at all. Unless, the press turn on him and build political pressure against him. The press is like the modem day lynch-mob.

        Mr. Tunney better hope that this deal gets done and soon. I think the press could soon be turning, especially since our Mayor is letting him hang out there alone.

  • Curt

    how appropriate that Brett said if was number 2 bc that’s what the cubs are walking in dealing with Tunney , Emanuel , and the criminals formerly known as the rooftop owners.

  • Die hard

    A Jumbotran is such an eyesore that can’t see City allowing it and become involved in lawsuits by home owners asking for injunction to stop it

    • Tom A.

      What are you talking about Mr. Tunney ? A jumbotron placed in left-centerfield would be absolutely awesome and affect none of the Wrigleyville friends and neighbors.

      So many comments must be coming from people that are not attending games. Who would not want a jumbotron ?

      • Die hard

        Then put it in center field at least

  • Rooster

    I’m tired of ppl trying to Preserve Wrigley. Shut it down and then move it out of town. In the condition that it’s in it’s dangerous. Players don’t want to play there. Has anyone ever taken a tour of the dump? I have and it’s quite humorous that ppl are paid big bucks and have those facilities. It either needs to go or $300 million plus in upgrades. If I pay big bucks to watch a game there then I want JUMBO TRON REPLAYS. I want killer kick a@# music when Rizzo comes up to the plate (no organ at a funeral). Get with the times ppl. Oh yeah, ditch the landline phones and get your cell phones, iPresses, and iPulls. I want what the other new stadiums have to offer…not the same OLD crap. Rooftops can go to h##l. Do they pay the players? Block every inch of their view and make them build higher.

    • Robbo

      So your ideal ballpark has a jumbo tron, kick a$$ music, and is built so high the neighbors can’t see inside? Good news, it already exists! It’s located off of 35th / Dan Ryan, 10 miles south of Wrigley. I’m pretty sure you won’t have a hard time getting tickets either.