Chicago Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts has been making a round of media stops this morning, as you’d expect for the home opener. As you’d also expect, a heavy focus of the interviews has been the status of discussions with the City/Neighborhood/rooftops on a funding deal to get the revovation, itself, underway.
As expected, based on Dave Kaplan’s conversation with Ricketts this morning, there isn’t much to update. By way of example, here are the notes I jotted down while listening to Ricketts’ interview on the Score this morning (“I’s” and “We’s” are Ricketts speaking, paraphrasing where appropriate):
- We’ve all worked very hard through the last few days, and we’re committed to saving Wrigley Field, and excited to keep the ball rolling.
- We think it’s the right thing to stay at Wrigley Field. There’s a solution here, and we’re committed to getting it done.
- Completely avoids question about a drop dead date by which a deal has to be done for getting started in the offseason.
- Spoke positively of the Mayor and Alderman Tunney.
- Ricketts simply doesn’t want to talk about any particulars of the deal. It’s pretty clear. (But it’s not like it sounds like there are problems.)
- The focus has always been Wrigley. The Ricketts Family ownership will be defined by whether the team wins. Everything we do has to be focused on doing that. We also have a treasure of a ballpark, which is a special piece of Chicago and baseball history. That’s important to us, too.
- We’re sensitive to the rooftops’ interests, and I think we’ll get through this. People jump to conclusions because they don’t have all the information Once we’re able to discuss it, I think folks will see we’ve been sensitive and thoughtful.
- There’s a public process that is required in all of this, and hopefully we’ll get it going soon.
- We have a great business organization, too. Generating more revenue to get more revenue on the field is something that helps us win. There’s a lot, unfortunately, on the business side we can’t discuss because we are not allowed by MLB or by the seller agreement.
The conclusion? Well, this is a whole lot of nothing, which suggests things really are looking good, even if there’s nothing official to announce just yet. To my ear, Ricketts never even planted a single, subtle seed of doubt about eventually getting the deal done. I wonder if he’s been cautioned not to say anything about anything, and if that penultimate bullet there is the key one. Maybe things are essentially agreed upon (subject to some additional wrangling with the rooftops), but because of the formal process required – community approvals, City Council vote, etc. – Ricketts isn’t permitted to say much of anything.
Thus, we get a lot of fluff. Given that Ricketts knew he was going to be blasted by renovation questions today, and that he clearly had prepared answers that had no real substance to them, I suspect things really are still moving in a positive direction. There were no threats, no discussion of a deadline, and nothing but positivity. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still issues to deal with, but it didn’t have even the whiff of “things might fall apart and we might not get to renovate Wrigley the way we want.” Hopefully that means there are mere i’s to dot and t’s to cross.
I suspect we’ll hear plenty more about this as the week goes on … like it or lump it.
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