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respect wrigleyI really didn’t think it would be possible for the calls to leave Wrigley Field to return after the Cubs spent a year getting the political approvals necessary to implement the renovation – and, importantly, surrounding development – of Wrigley. The Cubs are going to spend the 2014 season celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, for crying out loud.

… but we are. With the current Cubs/rooftops impasse blocking the renovation, and one lawsuit already filed, folks are once again raising the question: why not just move? The loudest voice among that group, at least raising the question, is Dave Kaplan, who yesterday wrote about the problems the Cubs face on the business side. From the sound of a couple of his comments on Twitter preceding the article, it seems like Kaplan got a look at the rooftop contract, determined it to be solidly in favor of the rooftops, and grew concerned about the viability of getting the renovation done the way the Cubs want it.* Couched in a piece about the various financial headwinds facing the Cubs (and not other major market teams), Kaplan concludes by rattling the “move” saber. At least start talking to the suburbs or the Mayor about an alternative Chicago location, Kaplan implies.

*(I don’t even want to think about what Kaplan lays out in his final paragraph: imagine that, a year from now, things stand exactly where they stand today. If that sounds crazy, remember that the renovation – after years of failed attempts at public financing – was announced over a year ago at the Convention in 2013. I shudder.)

The problem with the threat to move, of course, is unless the Cubs are actually going to consider moving, there is no threat. The stakeholders the Ricketts would be trying to sway (the rooftops, the neighborhood, the City) know how unlikely a move is, and may be more willing to risk that 0.01% chance that the Cubs would move (and the stakeholders lose catastrophically) than risk giving up leverage in the current talks.

The Ricketts Family has invested heavily – both figuratively and literally – in staying at Wrigley Field, and the Cubs have been working on corporate sponsors for the post-renovated Wrigley for a long time now.

Consider further that a renovated Wrigley Field costs $300 million for, what, a then-worth $800 million to $1 billion asset? The Ricketts are going to leave Wrigley – rendering it virtually worthless, save for the land upon which it sits (to use it for anything else going forward, there would still have to be significant investment) – and then spend $700 million to $1 billion building a new ballpark out in the suburbs or somewhere else in Chicago? Do you see the extreme financial disconnect there? The value of the latter park, on an annual basis, would have to substantially outstrip the value of Wrigley, as it sits now, for that to make any sense. For everyone who screams “but I’d totally go to the ballpark elsewhere!” there are 10 casual “fans” and corporate groups who would not.

At the Convention, Tom Ricketts said the Cubs never seriously considered playing games away from Wrigley to speed up the renovation because (paraphrase) it didn’t feel right to play Cubs games not at Wrigley. Does that sound like a permanent move is ever really going to be considered?

It isn’t, and it probably shouldn’t.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again: a huge, huge chunk of the Cubs’ gate receipts come from casual/party fans and corporate groups. Swinging up to a game from downtown (after work, for example, or while playing afternoon hooky) is easy, and the Cubs’ ticket market is centralized. Move the Cubs to the suburbs? Sure, it becomes very convenient for the smaller percentage of folks who live out that particular way (whichever way it is), but for the folks who live in the City, or, God forbid, the suburban or exurban areas on the other side of the City from the new location? That’s a serious freaking trek, bottlenecking constantly. The hardcore fans would come. They always will. But there are far more casual fans than you might think, and they will not come (unless the Cubs are very, very good … which … that’d be the chicken/egg problem of revenues and winning).

The Cubs need steady gate revenues now more than ever, especially if the mega TV deal can’t be locked in until after 2019. Actually moving, to me, presents as much or more risk of financial disruption than staying and fighting the good fight for the renovation. Make no mistake: I’m as frustrated as anyone that the renovation isn’t already long underway, and I think all sides involved deserve a hearty dose of blame (some more than others) for what amounts to crapping on Cubs fans for the past year-plus. And I’d love nothing more than if the Cubs could credibly threaten to move, get what they need, and then get started renovating Wrigley. I simply don’t think that’s realistic, and I think actually moving would be cutting off the Cubs’ nose to spite their face.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If MLB had cahones they would let Ricketts sell the team to Carlos Slim for $2 billion so he could move team and expand league to Mexico City- time has come

    • brainiac

      they’d be much better served moving the cardinals out of the country

      • Diehardthefirst

        Pope may object- by the way- why don’t they have to change their name? They claim its a bird but double meaning brings religion into mix- is that why they are better than Cubs?

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          ***mindblown***

        • baldtaxguy

          Yes, you have it. Same case with the Padres and Angels.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Not Mexico City. Monterrey. It’s much closer and is a baseball city. And San Juan. Those are the crown jewels IMO. There are still travel and economic issues. But that would give us 32 teams, 8 divisions, and probably 12 playoff teams. (Assuming, you know, we don’t actually relocate the Cubs but they’re expansion teams.)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’d not be surprised to see the Marlins move to one of those cities in a decade or so.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Well the shlep from Boston to San Diego is daunting too for example- I am sure schedule can accommodate a team in Mexico and Mexico City has the population to support team- can Monterey provide 25-30000 per game? Also don’t think expansion is answer due to talent shortage- I believe that Chicago is no longer a 2 team city

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          I would like to see Indianapolis get an expansion team.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I’m not sure Indy is quite big enough to back a baseball team.

            They do well for the Colts and Pacers, but only when they’re winning.

            • hansman

              Plus you’d be plopping them in the middle of A LOT of franchises.

              • http://bleachernation.com woody

                Never know when an owner wants to sneak the team out of town in the middle of the night. Incedibly it happened to Baltimore.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Yes when a city gives you a free tax ride and unlimited assests it’s easy to sneak away. The Colts are still a financial liability for Indy luckily they keep winning and that helps, but in the 90’s before Payton that city was really regretting the cost of getting the Colts.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Not sure they are still a liability. Indy’s done pretty well off the Colts lately.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      The new stadium was complete here take this check and we will pay you again. Yes because of the winning ways and Super Bowl the city has brought increased revenue but the cost and taxes to citizens to keep them there is quite expensive. As long as they win it’s fine a 5 year slide and complaints will grow and buzz will stop.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Downtown Indy is nice and ballpark would look great but I just don’t think it would support the 80 home games.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Population wise Indy is fine smaller cities support MLB franchises but Indy is a city surround by massive burbs which has a majority of the population and specifically the population that can afford season ticket- getting downtown for most is a 30-40 min drive which is fine on Sunday but not something people want to do multiple times a week.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            As an Indianapolis native I don’t see Indy supporting a baseball team and not sure where they could fit one downtown (the park down there might work but then no park). The Pacers when not winning struggle to fill seats and the Cokts before Payton was never sold out- I was in high school during the Jeff George days and we’d go downtown and get seats for $2-5 every Sunday from scalpers. The city had to pay handsomely for the Irsays to sneak out of Baltimore and continued to give them tax after tax revenue to keep them there even after Payton made them great. If Indy was to get a team it would have to be another “here’s a blank check would you like another” deal and I don’t think Indy would be able to support 80 games a year in attendance. It would be cool since I visit there regularly but I doubt it will ever happen.

        • hansman

          That’s, also, one of the longest trips in baseball and it’s only a couple of teams. Any team based I Mexico City has that for every road trip.

          Oh…and it’s higher up than Coors.

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            That’s why…. Monterrey. It’s probably more American, wealthier (though not wealthy), and more baseball savvy than Mexico City. And it’s a LOT closer. I don’t think people realize how enormous Mexico is and how far away Mexico Cityhttps://www.google.com/search?q=mexico+city+to+monterrey&rlz=1Y3AHUG_enUS535US535&oq=mexico+city+to+monterre

      • Abe Froman

        I was in Monterrey for work last week, interesting idea, but hard to see a team moving to Mexico before the violence is settled for a good long time. Would have to dig into what soccer numbers they draw to infer some type of comparison. I don’t think Mexico is a feasible landing spot over the next few years.

        • Diehardthefirst

          Eh? Chicago is not exactly nirvana?

  • Diehardthefirst

    Well 2 things are true- one, Cubs have no future in Chicago or suburbs with current aging fan base and two Ricketts ship will be taking water soon- Mexico fans are the best in the world and given 50% of players first language is Spanish only bigotry is in the way of expansion.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Bigotry and pesos my friend. And pesos. Lots of pesos. Mostly pesos. Really… just pesos.

      • Diehardthefirst

        To Carlos Slim $2 billion is a rounding error- memo to TR- make the long distance call and reverse charges if have to

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    So I’ll just throw it out there because I know die hard wants to say it. CUBA! As Emperor Bud retires look for his next step is to move to Cuba and expand the MLB to Cuba and complete his evil plan to turn MLB into a true Galactic Empire. He will have all the top players and prospects coming through him which he will then sell them to the highest bidder- finally the MLB will be fully operational. Eventually Cuba will not longer exist just the “MLB Empire”

    • Diehardthefirst

      Just have to move one Florida key to the left to change Cubs to Cuba

  • Brandon

    The Cubs should come out with a commercial that explains all of the problems that they are having with the rooftops. In that commercial they need to urge the fans not to endorse the rooftops, not to go to thoes bars and tell fans to let the rooftop owners know how we as the “true fans” think and feel about what they are doing. Two questions, if the Cubs can’t fix the ballpark to entice players to come to Chicago why cant they sue the rooftops? or what if a fan gets hurt at the ballpark due to the park falling apart, can the rooftops then get sued? Make sure the blame goes to those who deserve it!

    • Diehardthefirst

      That will invite the biggest damage award imagined for breach of contract implied duty of good faith and fair dealing between parties

      • Brandon

        Urge the Cubs fans to spend their money in Wrigley then, let them know when they spend their money on the rooftops they are hurting the ballclubs ability to generate revenues that would be spent on getting better players. Why can the rooftops say whatever they want but the Cubs cant do anything to fight back?

  • Brandon

    Move to Tennessee, no state taxes and a lot of Cubs fans out here.

  • Brandon

    I hate saying this but why dont the Cubs come out and say that the ballpark is a dump and unsafe,play a year at the Cell and let the rooftop owners suck on it for a year or two. (think I just puked while typing that)LOL!!!

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    The only logical place is “The East of Chicago Cubs of Western Michigan sponsored by Founders Brewing” I will be there everyday passing out cans of All Day IPA and this goat will bring no curse.

    • bbmoney

      well if logic dictates….

    • fortyonenorth

      MG–are you involved with Founders? Good stuff.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        If by involved you mean I drink massive amounts of their beer and visit the tap room as often as I do a bathroom… then yes I’m very involved.

        • fortyonenorth

          Ha! Very good. Had a Backwoods Bastard tonight myself.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Ah I love that bastard and his father Old Curmudgeon

    • Danny Ballgame

      Hopslam Cubbies

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        +1 but I’d prefer Devil Dancer Cubs or rename CBS from Canadian Breakfast Stout to Cubbie Breakfast Stout.

  • Brandon

    Time to let the city get involved, every one of thoes bars are way past fire code safety limits and they all over serve. When you cant walk into a bar without running into everybody in the place or watching people puke before the game even starts…start giving out heafty fines and closing the place down, let them see how it feels having somebody else run their establishment into the ground. That goes for the rooftops also(over serving).

  • Brandon

    Does anybody know if the rooftops have to pay an amusement tax on the tickets they sell? If they dont, why the hell not??

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Excellent question

    • baldtaxguy

      If they are subject to it, they are not paying it, their customers are.

  • BT

    How’s the Red’s Rye?

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Delicious if you like Ryes

      • baldtaxguy

        Ummm…Rye….gooood.

  • BT

    that was actually supposed to be a reply to MG.

  • Santos Toupee

    No damages, no lawsuit. Why not just pay through 2024 the profits projected for the rooftop owner that would be blocked by a scoreboard? Drop in the bucket compared to the revenue the “jumbotron” would bring in.

    • baldtaxguy

      I’m guessing anything less than a percentage ownership in the team, a statue of Beth Murphy in the bleachers, and a lifetime exemption from Ameritrade fees would be less than satisfactory.

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