Chicago Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts was just on the radio with Mully and Hanley on The Score, and I thought I’d round up a few of the highlights. I’d expect audio of the interview to be available at The Score’s site at some point later today.
Among Ricketts’ comments, which are described/paraphrased below:
- The process of rebuilding and retooling is paying off and a lot of it is behind the Cubs now. Getting Joe Maddon is a big step for the organization, and it shows the Cubs are committed to winning.
- If you went back a few years ago, and told Ricketts the Cubs would have Epstein, Hoyer, McLeod, and Maddon, and the top farm system in baseball, he would definitely have taken it. Adding a manager is just one piece, and doesn’t prove anything. But it’s important.
- Ricketts reiterates the way the Cubs operate financially in the context of making a big free agent splash this year: We take all of the revenue, cover expenses, and everything else goes to the baseball side. It’s up to Epstein and Hoyer to decide how to allocate those dollars. We have a lot of dry powder and flexibility right now, and if the right guy comes up, they’ll try to get him. But there are 29 other teams, so you have to be rational, while being aggressive.
- The next big financial change to the Cubs will be the new television contract. The teams that are most aggressive in signing free agents the past few years have been teams that recently renewed TV deals. Ownership and management have to look at what’s best for the Cubs in the short run on the TV side, while also figuring out the long run. Ricketts said there are a lot of possible partners, there are active discussions, and despite the ratings dip of the last few years, the Cubs are a very desirable programming asset. Ricketts is confident that the team has the right people to decide what’s the best route. He didn’t provide any specific update, but said hopefully there will be answers soon.
- Ricketts was asked about the huge increase in valuation of the franchise and the relationship between that and how the money is used: The value of the franchise has gone up, yes, but all sports franchises have. When the Ricketts Family bought the team, it was in the terrible financial crisis and there was so much volatility – so the timing was key, and the growth in value of teams in sports has been key. What does that really mean, though? Not too much. It’s dollars on paper, not in a drawer somewhere. There is some talk about bringing in outside investors, which is normal. But the dollars coming in would go straight into the ballpark.
- Ricketts wouldn’t characterize rooftop situation as “done,” but he also wouldn’t call it a “fight.” The Cubs, Ricketts said, have the right from the city to do what they want with the outfield. They’re talking to the rooftops all the time, looking for the best options for everyone. The Cubs are talking to a few of them about what is going to happen for them in the future, and it’s being worked on. There was no comment on reports the a rooftop sale could happen soon.
- On a possible extension for Theo Epstein, Ricketts praised the the job the baseball side has done, complimenting the honest assessment they’ve provided and making the tough choices to make the organization better in the future. Ricketts “thinks the world of Theo” and his team, and he’s got a couple years left on his deal, and when he’s ready to talk about an extension, Ricketts says they will talk. On the business side, Ricketts made sure to add, he is very comfortable as well.
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