The Wrigley Field renovation plan is moving forward according to the framework to which the Cubs, the Mayor, and Alderman Tom Tunney agreed months ago. The night game ordinance – the first piece of the puzzle, which increases the Cubs’ night game allowance by 50% – was recently passed by City Council, and the planned development process on the rest of the renovation is underway. Heck, the Cubs are even going as far as to test gigantic screens in the outfield to determine how much the planned outfield signage will block rooftop views.
In other words, by all indications, the renovation of Wrigley Field, where it sits, is proceeding as expected – albeit after a long, ridiculous battle where the Ricketts Family had to fight tooth and nail for the opportunity to spend their own money renovating (and monetizing) Wrigley.
But none of that is stopping another suburban entity from trying to get the Cubs to abandon their deal with the City and build a Wrigley Field replica far from Chicago. Le sigh.
In a story simultaneously reported by the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and the Daily Herald – read: pushed out to the media – DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is putting together a presentation for the Cubs to try and lure them out of Chicago and into the western suburbs, where they can build a replica of Wrigley Field with whatever bells and whistles they want.
Each article contains substantially similar quotes from Cronin, the gist of which is: the Cubs have grown deeply disappointed with the way the process is going with the City, and are now “genuinely” interested in exploring a move. This piece of Cronin’s comments from the Sun-Times reads like it comes straight out of the Threaten to Move Playbook: “That experience with the City Council [last week] over the night games was particularly eye opening, instructive and troubling to them. Some of the [Ricketts] siblings came to the conclusion that the city doesn’t really want to partner with them and it will be difficult and uncertain forever. They want to be wanted. We may not have the charming Wrigleyville neighborhood. But, we look for ways to make it work. We don’t throw obstacles in front of business.”
So, do we buy this? Not really.
Here’s what I buy: the Cubs recognize that, although the framework for a deal is in place, the particulars remain imperiled. They learned that last week when some of the finer night game points were changed without their approval. They now want to make sure the City is aware that they’re pissed, and that they aren’t going to stand for other key elements of the framework being changed too dramatically without their approval. Does that mean the Cubs pushed Cronin to make these comments? To put together a proposal? Maybe. Maybe not. Cubs VP of Communications Julian Green told the Sun-Times that, no, the Cubs have nothing to do with Cronin’s late push.
But I’m sure the Cubs don’t hate this coming out. And, again … I mean … read that Cronin quote. It’s like he’s reading from a script that is perfectly designed to aid the Cubs. We’ll just call it a happy coincidence.
Would the Cubs really consider moving? If the deal with the City absolutely and completely falls apart, sure. If the City absolutely and completely tries to screw the Cubs through this process, sure. But no one expects that to happen, even considering Chicago politics. The Cubs are just protecting themselves, and playing the game at the same time. We don’t just want the framework, the Cubs are saying. We want exactly what we agreed to receive.
Various Cubs spokespersons in the articles say the same thing: there are no plans to entertain offers to move, and the goal remains getting something done with the City of Chicago.