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respect wrigleyWhat, you thought that just because the general parameters of a deal were in place that the obsession would end? Silly rabbit.

Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Alderman Tom Tunney announced that they’d come to an agreement on a deal that would allow the Cubs to proceed with their renovation of Wrigley Field. That deal, of course, is contingent on the Cubs/City/Alderman moving through the necessary Planned Development/Landmark Commission/City Council Ordinance processes. Here’s an exhaustive look at the Wrigley renovation deal, as the Cubs would like it to be, as well as what’s to come in the process.

Obviously there were a number of interesting reactions to the Wrigley deal revelation …

  • The Rooftops immediately issued a press release, which was easily the friendliest in their recent deluge of correspondence. They did, however, remind everyone that they want a voice in this process, by any means necessary: “We are pleased the Chicago Cubs will participate in a community process to flesh out these details more in-depth. However, no community process, city ordinance, or agreement without our consent can or should dismiss contractual rights granted to us by the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract.”
  • Alderman Tunney released a statement (h/t Mike), which praised the Cubs and the Mayor for coming to an agreement, but cautioned that there’s still a process ahead. His statement reads, in part: “I must stress, however, that there remains a great deal of work to do, especially with regard to community input. As the statement notes, the plans, with many more specifics detailed, will be reviewed as part of the Planned Development, Landmarks and City Ordinance processes. The Cubs started the process with a comprehensive list of desired elements and outcomes. While I am committed to the framework released earlier today, there is no doubt that community input is vital regarding several elements that would most affect the quality of life for neighborhood residents and businesses.” As I said yesterday, the contours of the Cubs’ proposal are likely to change slightly as the community’s input is memorialized, but I don’t anticipate the final deal not looking a great deal like the Cubs/Mayor/Alderman have proposed.
  • Crain’s Danny Ecker got reactions from a variety of neighborhood folks/groups, and it sounds like the bump in night games – from 30 to at least 40 – is the most unnerving part of the plan. That’ll be an aspect to watch, when the new night game ordinance is introduced at City Council at some point in May.
  • Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times notes the discrepancies between the Cubs’ proposal released yesterday and the joint statement released late Sunday night. She’s also got the react quote from the Mayor, but it’s relatively generic, rah-rah stuff.
  • Jon Greenberg wrote a long, witty take, as he does. I couldn’t quite ferret out the thesis, but I have increasingly found that Greenberg is among the more enjoyable reads these days, so long as you enter into it with the right perspective: he’s going to snark, he’s going to dump on the Cubs/ownership a bit, he’s going to make a handful of good points, and he’s going to make you chuckle.
  • Paul Sullivan wonders why the Cubs have been hiding the ball on the JumboTron. Obviously it became clear over the course of the last couple months that the JumboTron has always been an integral part of the Cubs’ renovation/funding plan, and was planned for 2014. So, if that’s true, why not announce it at the Cubs Convention with all the other planned improvements, especially if the JumboTron is at least half about improving the fan experience? These are fair questions that Sullivan asks. I suspect the answer is simply a combination of (1) it’s a sensitive issue, given the tradition element, and the Cubs wanted to roll it out slowly, and (2) it’s one of the few aspects of the renovation that was seriously imperiled by outside forces. Why announce plans for a JumboTron, rile up half of the fan base, and then ultimately have the plan scuttled by the rooftop owners and Alderman Tunney? That was a risk the Cubs didn’t think worth taking until they knew for sure they could get the JumboTron.
  • I think it’s worth emphasizing something Tom Ricketts said in his comments yesterday during the press conference: if the renovation plan goes through as the Cubs have proposed (and the Mayor/Alderman have agreed), Ricketts said, the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series at Wrigley Field. It’s big talk, and something you’d normally just chalk up to an owner being an owner. But Ricketts knows how impactful those words are to Cubs fans, and he knows he has a role in making it come true. In other words, his previous claims that every dollar that comes in the door will be put back into the organization will be further put to the test as revenues grow. When he says that the Cubs will win the World Series, I expect the Ricketts Family to back that up with dollars.
  • Rich

    TRANSLATION: WE THE CITY AND COMMUNITY MAY NEED A FEW MORE THINGS..

  • Cubz99

    Brett you have done a nice job at consolidating these stories and putting the information together in a manner that is pretty comprehensive. It is also enjoyable to read your take on the whole Wrigley renovation project.

    Overall, it is wonderful that the revenue will be increased I am just skeptical over the impact of the improvements. It would be nice to see what the projected payroll will be for the next few years. The way that Ricketts was talking, he makes it seem like they could/would support a very large payroll ($200+?) If after all of the improvements the Cubs are back to a $150ish payroll, that will be very disappointing.

    Also, as you point out he does continue to say that every dollar will go back into payroll, but as we saw recently, he took the in house marketing guy and set up another corporation in order to get a piece of the revenue before it technically becomes the Cubs’ money. If the payroll is substantial, then no big deal. But still, another shrewd move.

    • CubFan Paul

      I don’t know if the Cubs ever had a $150M payroll ($145Mish, yes).

      But Ricketts making it sound like he’s a mid market team is a joke. An average of $270M a year is Big Market money.

      If Ricketts was honest about his debt and honest about using Cubs’ resources to pay that debt, maybe people like me would be more forgiving.

      Bruce Levine’s source says Ricketts is paying $40M a year in debt services. Bruce’s reaction that Brett left out:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/16164/how-soon-will-deal-benefit-baseball-side

      • Cubz99

        Looks like according to Cot’s the high water mark was $144MM, so you are closer. Nice story by Bruce Levine, but not very encouraging. Bruce makes it sound like the we will be waiting on the TV deal before we see a large increase in spending.

        • CubFan Paul

          “we will be waiting on the TV deal before we see a large increase in spending”

          ummm, thats almost exactly what Ricketts said yesterday. I expect a slight bump from the Jumbotron & signage in 2014 and 2015, but the most i’m expecting to see is $120M-$125M over the next 3-5yrs

          sidenote: i’m loving the asian beauties .com ads :)

          • Kyle

            Somehow, I expect any early bumps will be offset by the cost of the renovations themselves.

            • CubFan Paul

              Dammit Debbie Downer.

              • JulioZuleta

                You know you have issues when Paul calls you a downer…

                • Kyle

                  Reality issues. I have issues with reality.

                  • JulioZuleta

                    No argument here.

                • Kyle

                  I mean, seriously. We keep hearing that debt is forcing payroll down and the Ricketts absolutely aren’t going to invest any outside money into the team. So why wouldn’t the cost of the renovations come out of revenues at first, until the new revenue streams pick it up?

                  • CubFan Paul

                    No, your right kyle. Renovations are $60M a year in expenses, but once complete in 5yrs it’ll only produce about $100M extra a year.

                    An average revenue stream of $370M sounds good and could handle that $60M a year but in the meantime we’re stuck.

                  • JulioZuleta

                    I’m just messing with you. Who knows, maybe they put organizational revenue back into the team, but for this huge expense they’ll use family money that doesn’t come from the team.

                    While it’s possible that you are right, maybe even likely that you are right, I just don’t quite get why you try to find the most negative interpretation of every possible scenario. You’re a smart guy and presumably (although sometimes it’s hard to tell) a Cubs fan, just sit back and enjoy things like this sometime. Just enjoy the thought of a 21st century Wrigley Field that will inevitably lead to more money eventually…don’t try to find the bad in it. I’m not saying people should approach everything with blind optimism, but man,let yourself enjoy something once in a while.

                    The “reality” of this situation, something that not even you can argue, is that it will lead to increased revenue and a better overall experience down the road. Maybe we won’t reap the benefits this year or next, but should that be a reason not to do a stadium renovation?

                    • Kyle

                      I tend to take the negative explanation as most likely because, and it feels like not enough of the fanbase is noticing this, things are going very negatively for the Cubs right now.

                      In the last five years, things for the Cubs have gotten continually worse.

                    • Kyle

                      Sorry, I realized I didn’t answer your question.

                      “The “reality” of this situation, something that not even you can argue, is that it will lead to increased revenue and a better overall experience down the road. Maybe we won’t reap the benefits this year or next, but should that be a reason not to do a stadium renovation?”

                      We should absolutely do the renovation. But I’m not exactly happy that it may be seven or eight years into Ricketts’ ownership before the team can even begin to reach the payroll levels they should have had all along.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      It’s not nearly as bad as you usually allege. Also, your arguments lose credibility when they are ALWAYS negative. It’s ridiculous to act like nothing good has happened in the last few years.

                      They just got a huge Wrigley reno deal done, have had seemingly good drafts the last 2 years, and made a few nice trades. Sure, it’s going slower than we’d like, but there is progress.

                    • Kyle

                      As usual, the only non-credible argument is the one that says that I’m always negative. It’s simply not true. I am frequently negative, but given the state of the franchise, I think that’s justified.

                      The renovation deal was three years overdue, the Cubs got literally nothing of what they were originally asking for, and it’s structured in such a way that it might hurt our ability to spend on baseball for a few years. Negativity is justified.

                      We have had two good drafts in a row. I don’t know where you got the idea that I don’t acknowledge that, but I usually trumpet it pretty hard when the conversation goes in that direction.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      Sure, the we didn’t get everything we wanted in the renovation, but what were the Ricketts’ supposed to do, force the state to pay? In negotiations like thing you come a long way from what you ask for and what you get. They got a JumboTron, increased signanger, the triangle building, and at least 10 more night games. Three years late? So the Rickett’s were supposed to move into Wrigley and have a deal done that day? There’s an acclimation period that goes with turning an organization upside down. When you get new owners, and 2 years later an entirely new from office, there’s going to be transition time…

                    • Kyle

                      “Sure, the we didn’t get everything we wanted in the renovation, but what were the Ricketts’ supposed to do, force the state to pay?”

                      Not getting on the city’s bad side would have been a good start. He ham-handed his way through this with politically embarrasing gaffes and arbitrary deadliens that got laughed at.

                      “Three years late? So the Rickett’s were supposed to move into Wrigley and have a deal done that day? There’s an acclimation period that goes with turning an organization upside down.”

                      Ricketts’ bid was accepted in January 2009. He took over the team in October 2009. He immediately declared Wrigley renovations to be his first priority. A competent handling of his first priority might have had it done in a year.

          • BT

            Do you guys believe Ricketts is pocketing the change? Is that what you are getting at? Do you believe a multimillionaire/huge Cub fan is lying to fans, and keeping the profits instead of plowing them back into the team? If so, how much is he making? Does each sibling get a cut? Does his father get some of the money? Exactly how much money in profit would make sense for him to lie to everyone, sully the team’s name, hurt them in both the standings and with the fans, and sabotage their rebuilding plan? How many millions would it be worth for a billionaire family to ruin their name by lying?

            How does this plan of action make sense to you? How is that more sensible than what Ricketts has claimed multiple times, that the money is all going back into the team?

            • CubFan Paul

              BT, i’m not getting at anything. READ up a little further about the debt payments.

              It’s not nice to put words in people’s mouth (Hansman).

              • Jp3

                Maybe Ricketts is a double agent White Sux fan and he’s succeeding in making us a last place ball club

              • BT

                I don’t have to READ up on anything. I understand about the debt payments. My point is that either Ricketts is spending money on stuff he HAS to spend money on, which makes bitching about it pointless, or he is CHOOSING to not spend money on the team, which makes your bitching legit. Everything you bitch about points to the former.

                • CubFan Paul

                  BT, i’m not bitching, you are and by read up, I meant scroll up to the espn link, sorry.

              • hansman1982

                What did I do now?

                • CubFan Paul

                  You assume people are thinking a certain way instead of basing your counter argument on what the person actually said/typed, like BT did above. You drive me nuts sometimes.

                  It’s cool tho.

                  • hansman1982

                    Oh, ya, I do that and don’t worry, you drive me nuts most of the time…

            • Edwin

              1. Yes?
              2. Probably?
              3. Could be.
              4. A ton.
              5. I would assume so. Except the dumb one. He gets nothing and likes it.
              6. It’s probably why he loaned his kids the money.
              7. By my count, $3,482,234.96.
              8. 1,000 million. I mean, that way, they’re still billionairs, right?
              9. People lie. People look out for their own self-interest over the interests of others. Tom Ricketts is people. It could make sense.
              10. There are only so many places the money can go, and lately less of it has been going towards MLB payroll.

              Look, I don’t think Rickets is trying to con anybody here. There are plenty of legit reasons for spending less on payroll, spending money to renovate the stadium, or even spending to lower debt. But there’s also little reason to take Tom fully at his word when he says statements like “all the money goes back into the team” just to placate fans.

            • Kyle

              If they borrowed money to by the team, and are paying that debt with revenues, then I’d consider that going into their own pockets.

              • BT

                so as long as he is 800 million in the hole in perpetuity, you are cool with it.

                • Kyle

                  If he plans on paying down his family’s debt with team money, he shouldn’t make statements currying favor with the public by saying that all the profits are going back into the team.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Actually doesn’t the ballclub own Wrigley? That would be increasing the value of the team with team money.

                    • Edwin

                      I guess it depends on how you classify the debts, and how the purchase was set up. I can see how the Cubs could be considered an Asset that Tom bought, and the debt would be a separate liability.

                    • Kyle

                      We were talking about the debt service, not the Wrigley expansion.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Right, and if the debt is paid down the asset is worth more for the owner (the Cubs). Therefore the money would be staying inside the organization. Now, mind you that I don’t agree that this is what they have been insinuating, but I can see the argument and a way for them to be telling the truth and still deceive the fans.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Cubbies, Ricketts isn’t paying down the debt. He’s only making the interest payments ($40MILLION a year according to Levine and $15M-$20M a year according to others).

                      Two totally separate things. Paying on interest doesn’t lower debt at all, it delays it.

                    • Edwin

                      CB,

                      “Right, and if the debt is paid down the asset is worth more for the owner (the Cubs). ”

                      It depends. If you own a bar, and you take out a loan to buy a new pool table, does how fast you pay down the loan affect the value of the pool table, or the value of the business?

                      I would think in the Rickett’s situation, you would think of The Cubs and The Loan as separate items on the balance sheet. If the loan is paid down, it means that Ricketts is worth more, not nessecarily that the Cubs are worth more.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      That’s not what was being discussed though.

                      “If he plans on paying down his family’s debt with team money, he shouldn’t make statements currying favor with the public by saying that all the profits are going back into the team.”

                      I don’t disagree with what you said but you aren’t following the premise that is being used.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      By the way my last comment was to Paul. It gets a bit confusing when we run out of indents.

                    • Kyle

                      “That’s not what was being discussed though.”

                      It was for about half a dozen posts before the one you replied to.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      CB,

                      You keep implying that if Ricketts is paying on the debt, which is wrong, no matter what Kyle said

                      “That would be increasing the value of the team with team money…Right, and if the debt is paid down the asset is worth more…the money would be staying inside the organization…” Your quotes Cubbies, which is why I said:

                      Ricketts isn’t paying down the debt. He’s only making the interest payments ($40MILLION a year according to Levine and $15M-$20M a year according to others).

                      Two totally separate things. Paying on interest doesn’t lower debt at all, it delays it

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      No matter if it was a false premise, that is what was being discussed. I’m not moving the goal posts. I do agree that only interest is being paid. You are just trying to have an argument for arguments sake

                      Now, I’m going to chill out and eat a sandwich.

                    • Kyle

                      I don’t find the difference between paying interest on the debt and paying down the debt to be functionally important, and we don’t truly know which it is anyway.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      I’m not arguing. I was trying to correct you. I hate it when fans are ignorant to the facts. ;)

                • Kyle

                  But really, yes. Because the value of the team and its increase is very likely to outpace the interest on the debt.

          • King Jeff

            Doesn’t the WGN deal end after next year? I don’t know if they will wait until the Comcast end of the deal expires to do anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up with more money from their TV deals after next season. Either through re-negotiation with WGN, or repackaging the WGN games into the Comcast deal.

            • CubFan Paul

              Comcast has ‘sweetheart’ deal for Cubs’ rights. I don’t see them wanting to renegotiate or pay more til after 2019. I think Ricketts would have to make a big pay out offer.

          • MichiganGoat

            Paul the ads you’re saying tells us a lot about your internet viewing. ;) Since many of them are driven by your search and internet usage.

            • CubFan Paul

              hahahahhahahha OMG MG. i am not looking at asian/russian bride sites, i swear. I’m not even into asian porn so I blame Brett.

              • MichiganGoat

                I think you are I’m seeing ads for Kegerators, Brewing Supplies, Master Degree programs in Western Michigan, diapers, baby supplies, and Cubs gear…. so if you’re seeing those sites its because you internet history- Just ADMIT IT ;)

                • CubFan Paul

                  Goat, you’re killing me.

                  Now I will admit: as a teenager I was all for a mail order bride but I grew out of that phase (after I got laid).

                • Patrick W.

                  All I ever see are Amazon.com ads.

                  • Drew7

                    I get Johnston & Murphy, Zappos, and Cardinals ticket offers

                  • hansman1982

                    Usually mine are female targeted or baseball related.

                    Right now I have napkins, Amazon and Spotify even though I have never browsed for any of these things on this computer.

                    (Although, I am guessing there are few astrophysics, general astronomy and news ads in Brett’s cycle)

              • DarthHater

                “I’m not even into asian porn”

                Yes, but perhaps the asian porn advertisers direct their ads to you because of the kinds of porn you are into. :-P

      • George Altman

        The point on payroll isn’t how much you spend/year, but on who for what. The days of spending $144M/yr to get 5-6 medium/large contract FAs are over. That ship has sailed and only the galatically stupid or obsenely rich are doing that.

        You draft, sign, and develop your own core/high value players and buy out their last arbitration/early FA years (e.g. Castro, Posey, Felix, etc.). When the Cubs have a rotation of 3-4 home-grown SPs, Castillo, Rizzo, Castro, Soler, Baez, and Almora, THEN you buy a bat or a pitcher to put you over the top.

        That’s where this franchise is headed if anyone is really listening to Theo, and he won’t need a MLB payroll much north of $140-150M/yr to do that.

        • Kyle

          That’s a recipe for mediocrity.

        • Edwin

          I think you basically summed up Kyle’s nightmare of how the team might be run.

          If that is where the franchise is headed, then it’s going to be a long time before the Cubs start fielding teams with legit chances of reaching the playoffs.

          • Kyle

            By the time this organization is capable of fielding 3-4 homegrown starting pitchers, Castro and Rizzo might be retiring.

            • George Altman

              Tell that to Rizzo of the Nationals….check out how many starters came thru the draft/their system and/or trades for Nationals prospects.

              Relying on free agency and high team payrolls because ‘we’re a big market team’ to win a championship is the pipe dream.

              • Kyle

                It took them nine years of terrible teams to get to this point, and a couple of historic No. 1 picks as well.

                For all that terribleness and luck, they’re on their way to their second good season.

                I wouldn’t exactly spike the football on their strategy.

                • George Altman

                  After 106 years of winning NOTHING, a stratgegy with well-defined tactics and measureables is infinitely more preferable to my baseball sensibilities – even if it takes 9 years to come one strike away from the World Series.

                  Tell me where $200M/yr payrolls have produced a decade worth of October baseball? And you can’t use the Yankees because they’ve routinely traded their top prospects for needs and payed dearly to keep their most valued prospects (to them, anyway) like Jeter, Posada, Rivera, etc.

                  • Kyle

                    No one asked for anything of the sort on $200m.

                    This strategy is nothing new. Don’t kid yourself. This is a warmed over version of the Andy MacPhail plan with a bungling owner to top it off.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Didn’t you hear? The Tribune Co. sold a few years back.

                    • MikeL

                      You know whats funny? When McPhail took over the baseball side of things in the late 90s, his plan actually worked. A lot of people don’t realize that. People will point out all of the prospects that didn’t pan out, but we all know that all prospects don’t pan out. Let us remember we were able to aqcuire Ramirez, Lee, Clement, Lofton (valuable for a year), Nomar, and a few good offensive years from Barrett because of a farm system that was ranked #1 and #2 in back to back years….Sadly, Jim Hendry made some poor free agent signings.

                    • Kyle

                      “Didn’t you hear? The Tribune Co. sold a few years back.”

                      And every year since, attendance, payroll and win percentage have all gone down. I kind of miss them.

                    • Kyle

                      “You know whats funny? …. Sadly, Jim Hendry made some poor free agent signings.”

                      You were almost there, but you lost it at the end.

                      There were a lot of reasons MacPhail’s plan failed, but Jim Hendry’s free agent signings weren’t it. I agree that it had the beginnings of success.

                      There was MacPhail’s loyalty to the in-over-his-head Ed Lynch
                      There were prospect busts and poor development.
                      There was the allowance of Dusty Baker’s arm abuse that absolutely ruined Prior and didn’t help a pre-damaged Wood.
                      There was MacPhail’s reluctance to really leverage the team’s financial advantages due to his eye on the commissioner’s desk (didn’t want to annoy owners by driving up FA prices).
                      There was some brutal luck in the playoffs and late in the 2004 season.
                      There was the failure to find an adequate replacement for Hendry as scouting and development director when he was promoted to GM.

                      That last one hurt, because the post-Prior drafting was just utterly brutal. Hendry’s free agent spending wasn’t a mistake, it was the only thing keeping the franchise afloat when they missed on so many draft picks.

                      All of this just shows us that merely having a plan and promising to develop prospects doesn’t meant that you’ll have the sustained success you are looking for. There’s a lot of ways it can, and frequently does, go wrong for teams.

                    • hansman1982

                      Excellent point/observation there Mike.

                      MacPhail focuses on the farm system. The big league club then has the best 10 year run in most people’s lifetime.

                      Hendry doesn’t focus on the farm system and we have rough years.

                      We went from being able to get Nomar, Lee and Ramirez over the span of 3 seasons to selling out a good chunk of our farm system for Matt Garza.

                    • hansman1982

                      “All of this just shows us that merely having a plan and promising to develop prospects doesn’t meant that you’ll have the sustained success you are looking for. There’s a lot of ways it can, and frequently does, go wrong for teams.”

                      And I think that template for the Cubs is a partial model for the Cubs now. Get a crap-ton of prospects and trade the ones who you think are going to bust for the next Lee, Ramirez, Nomar, Lofton. The ones that work you sign to extensions and you get free agents to go around all of this.

                    • MikeL

                      Aaaaaaaaaand you just ignored the main point of my post, as you usually do to people. Congrats!

                      I don’t care about Baker, Lynch, or the drafting after Hendry was promoted to GM. I was talking specifically about 1999-2003, when McPhail’s plan worked. I agree that McPhail made a mistake by hiring Lynch.

                      All I said was that when McPhail took over the baseball side of things in the late 90s, his plan worked. I think if Hendry stayed as farm director and McPhail stayed as GM, the cubs might have experienced long term success. Now….this is my opinion you can agree with it or disagree with it all you want.

                      The bottom line is that the strong farm system that was built from 1999-2003 was a huge reason for the team’s success in 2003 and again in 2004.It also had a small impact in 2007 and 2008 as Lee and Ramirez were also key players that year.

                    • Kyle

                      So, at the very least, I won’t have to hear about “nothing for 106 years,” as if the Cubs have never tried this before? Cool.

                    • Kyle

                      I doubt Hendry just “didn’t focus” on the farm system. He spent nearly a decade in the Cubs’ scouting and development, iirc. I doubt he suddenly stopped caring about the deeper organization.

                      It was just a matter of not hiring the right people to be in charge of it.

                      The whole idea that building up your farm system is some sort of grand plan is silly. Everyone’s trying to develop amateur talent, except maybe the White Sox (Reinsdorf is weird about it). It’s such a fundamental reality of running a baseball team that making it your “plan” is rather odd. It’s like running a business and declaring that your plan is to “generate revenue.” Well, duh.

                    • hansman1982

                      “It also had a small impact in 2007 and 2008 as Lee and Ramirez were also key players that year.”

                      Lee and Ramirez put up a combined 14 WAR between 2007 and 2008. Zambrano put up 7.7 WAR.

                      And we got the previous year’s use of these players, the use of Prior and Wood, Nomar and Lofton.

                      All from developing what was a highly rated farm system.

                    • hansman1982

                      “It’s like running a business and declaring that your plan is to “generate revenue.” Well, duh.”

                      I’d say it’s more like taking over a business, seeing that the R&D department has been run into the ground and knowing that a strong R&D department will payoff big time in the long run decides to place a special focus on upgrading that portion of the business.

    • hansman1982

      Well the Cubs have never appeared to have been able to support a $150M sustained payroll. It appears the upper limit is $130M-ish.

      Now, with the renovation, I would guess that a sustainable payroll should grow to around $160M (to be more in line with the Red Sox). Ergo, I think that if the Cubs get a multitude of prospects this season, most of our prospects take the necessary step forward and Cano is on the market next fall, they should be much more willing to spend on him than in past years. Frankly, if he is a free agent and the Cubs aren’t in discussions with him, I will be upset with Theo.

      • Kyle

        I don’t think smart teams think in terms of an upper limit like that. When you succeed, the upper limit gets pushed upward. Playoff revenue, rising ticket prices, merchandise sales, more lucrative future TV deals.

        • hansman1982

          Then the only smart team is the Dodgers who only suddenly got smart after they got their giant TV deal.

          If you look at even the Yankees, they have jumped payroll, then cut it for a couple years, then it would jump again, hold there until it jumped again later.

          Now, the Yankees and other teams have setups that will allow for revenue to grow more with success and inflation through in park signage, jumbotrons, etc… I would be willing to guess that the Cubs have less ability to grow the revenue than other teams.

          • Kyle

            You missed the point entirely.

            Smart teams don’t ignore limits, but they do push them forward. Payroll can be an investment.

            • hansman1982

              I may have explained my point poorly or you may be missing my point of the “sustainable payroll levels”.

              With reduced advertising allowed and reduced night games, the Cubs will be at a severe disadvantage to increasing payroll outside of fans coming in the gates.

              Seeing that not much has changed in terms of capacity or ticket levels since 2008-2009, that means that revenue will be much flatter than a lot of other teams. If Forbes is correct that our revenue is still higher than in 2008, yet we only had an additional $30M in payroll room. That’d put us in the $135M payroll level which is about the same as it was back in 2008-2009. Now, with the new TV deal, it, in essence, remains at that $135M. With the renovation approved, I expect payroll to jump next year, possibly by a Cano.

              • Kyle

                Winning always breeds new revenues.

                It lets you raise ticket prices. It would make the Cubs’ ticket scalping plans especially lucrative. It makes the existing advertising space more desirable. It keeps fans actually in the seats buying concessions instead of the phantom attendance we see now. And playoff games are pretty decent profit-drivers (though not as big as you’d think when you start spreading the money around, oddly enough.)

                I hate to go back to them, but look at the Cardinals. They’ve been amazing at pushing the limits of their market size and stadium situation through success.

                • hansman1982

                  Actually, the Cardinals are an example of what I am talking about.

                  Their payroll was fairly stagnant until Pujols became Pujols then from 2005-2010 their average payroll was $92M. 2 of those years were over this (one by a whopping 7%).

                  Once they got their new stadium, payroll jumped again.

                  After 2006, their payroll jumped $2M. Same thing after 2011.

                  It could be their sustained success has already effectively maxed out their player expense to payroll ratio and due to their farm system success they are more willing to prematurely jump on future increases in revenues hence explaining the jump to $116M this year.

                • hansman1982

                  For the Cardinals, they jumped a good bit from 2000-2001 and then were within 7% of their 2001-2004 average each year.

                  The bump from 2004-2005 corresponds decently with Pujols’ first big time contract. One interesting thing:

                  “$3M/year (2007-11) deferred without interest, to be paid in 10 installments of $1.2M from 2020 to 2029, reducing present-day value at signing to $90,276,957″

                  Thereby flattening their increasing payrolls even more (before the new stadium, at least).

      • gutshot5820

        Hansman, where are you getting this figure of sustainable payroll of 160M-ish? Not only would that be unacceptable, but APPALLING. Their payroll during playoff seasons reached a max of 145M. That was before –
        a/ 27M per year additional revenue from MLB
        b/ two seasons of ticket price increases since Ricketts bought the team
        c/ new monster tv cable deals that could potentially net the Cubs an additional 100M per year
        d/ limits on money being able to be spent on the draft
        e/ increased revenue stream from renovation, jumbotron, etc.potentially up to an additional 95M

        If Ricketts does not keep his promise to divert all profits to baseball operations after all this haggling and begging. I will be one upset fan and customer. He leveraged the Cubs fans to get everything he wanted to make the Cubs a profit machine on a promise and I hope, we as fans will hold his feet to the fire on fulfilling that commitment. I fully expect our payroll to be near 200+M when the time is right.

        • Hansman1982

          I’d say my spending projection would be indexed to 2009-2011 figures without that TV deal. So add $20M to payroll for the tv deal (although that $20M (not all of that increased revenue goes straight to the payroll figure cots has) should also boost the other 29 teams payrolls), and the other two are negligible at this point. (Last years spending was a tad below 2011 and this years allotment is equal to 2011’s spending)

          If you want to say in terms of today’s dollars, using the number Forbes provided, I think a $180M payroll should be about right.

          After the WGN contract expires I’d bump that to $210M

  • The Brian Roberts Trade

    If the Cubs plan comes to fruition they will not need a 200+ million dollar payroll, 150 million should be more than enough.

  • Jon

    “Crain’s Danny Ecker got reactions from a variety of neighborhood folks/groups, and it sounds like the bump in night games – from 30 to at least 40 – is the most unnerving part of the plan. That’ll be an aspect to watch, when the new night game ordinance is introduced at City Council at some point in May.”

    These idiots never cease to amaze me. “WHEN YOU BOUGHT YOUR PROPERTY, YOU KNEW THERE WAS A BALLPARK NEARBY” I’d also love to see your property value if it wasn’t for Wrigley

  • dvs1313

    I did notice that he said if they get this through that they can put out a quality product. Basically admitting that what we have now is not quality.

    • Jp3

      They admitted we sucked when we signed “The Scott’s” to be our 4th and 5th starters.

      “Don’t kid yourself judge you’re a tremendous slouch”.
      Or we could go with…
      “Half these guys are past their prime, most them never had a prime”

  • The Dude Abides

    “the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series at Wrigley Field”

    Good I feel better now

    • Edwin

      Imagine how pissed off the fans will be if they win the world series on the road.

      • DarthHater

        I guess if they face game 7 of the Series on the road, they’ll have to deliberately lose and try again the following year. :-P

        • Edwin

          It’s either that, or Tom has to come clean and admit that he lied to everyone about winning the world series at Wrigley. When will the lying end, Tom!?!

    • cubmig

      This is the complete statement:

      “Ricketts said, the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series at Wrigley Field. It’s big talk, and something you’d normally just chalk up to an owner being an owner. But Ricketts knows how impactful those words are to Cubs fans, and he knows he has a role in making it come true.”

      My take on that is that Rickett wants to make history by closing the books on everything the 112 years Wrigley Cubs fans have had to endure. It’s a statement affirming his decisionnot to move the club to another city. Without a World Series Championship by the Wrigley Cubs, Ricketts and the life he’s once lived as an early fan, would have had to be lived with the echo of “If only I…” reverberating in his brain for the rest of his life. That (in my opinion) would have been contrary to who I believe he is. Personally, I never thought he’d leave Wrigley. This single statement finally tells why.

      • Kyle

        Unfortunately, we’re seeing what happens when fans take over a team. It’s not pretty.

        • ETS

          If that were true then we would have sandberg as a manager right now. Ricketts fan-run team.

          • Kyle

            Fans come in all sorts and flavors.

          • ETS

            Ricketts does not equal fan-run team. (why didn’t print?)

        • DocShock

          I disagree. The Dodgers look like what would probably happen if a fan took over. What fan of a team would want them to be horrible? I know you have no love for the FO or even the Ricketts family for whatever reason, but some of us do not see things the way you do. And no we are not blind. We see the badness of the team this year and last, but we also believe that something better is coming and we have decided to give Ricketts and the FO a chance. 1 1/2 years is not much in terms of expecting them to win. Find another owner who within a year of taking over a bad team turned it around and turned it around for a long period of time. I respect that you see things differently, but your opinion is no more valid than mine.

          • Kyle

            Ricketts has owned the team for a bit longer than one and a half years.

            • DocShock

              I should have said 1 1/2 years for owner and FO that he brought in.

              • Kyle

                Ricketts gets judged on his whole body of work, though. He doesn’t get the first two years erased because he brought in a new front office.

                • DarthHater

                  Fine, we’ll judge him on his whole body of work. Call me in 20 years and we’ll see if anybody gives a rat’s ass about how bad the first two years were.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    I wish I was color blind so I could call you in a couple of years. :D

  • Mrcub1958

    Brett, you hearing anything on the Cubs having backchanneled that if there are roadblocks put up in the remaining hurdles that playing up north for a season (or two) goes on the table. Its five years for the renovation and no more.
    Sounds like a good move to me.

  • Jp3

    Wait we just signed Henry Rolengardner for more depth in the bullpen!!!

    • Edwin

      He’s too much of a one-pitch pitcher for my taste.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Thompsonville, Il_Cubs

    Can’t say thank you enough to Brett for covering all of this. You do a great job and I just wanted to take the time to say thank you!

  • cubzforlife

    Everyone has missed the Suntimes story about class L tax incentive for the renovation. Found explanation on Chicago City web site.

  • DPRagen

    If the Cubs ever win it will be despite Theo’s handiwork, not because of it!

  • Pingback: Quick Hits: Wrigley, Theo, Rizzo, Prospects, and more… | Hot Stove Cubbies

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