SBD/November 30, 2011/Franchises

Cubs Chair Still Talking To City Officials, But Nothing New On Wrigley Renovation

Ricketts said that improved wireless access at Wrigley is "in the cards"
Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts said that MLB's new CBA will "not lead to any change in strategy on the Cubs' part, and that nothing is new on the Wrigley Field renovation front," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Ricketts had "no update on the Cubs’ plans for financing the estimated $300 million in ballpark renovations, saying he continues to talk with elected officials." As for changes at Wrigley, he said there will be "nothing dramatic from a structural standpoint" in '12. Ricketts: "From a fan amenities standpoint, there are some things we’re kicking around, but we haven’t finalized what those will be." After "years of spotty coverage for cell phone users," Ricketts said that "improved wireless access at Wrigley is 'in the cards'" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/30). Ricketts also said that he "was 'personally surprised' at the the new draft rules in the" CBA that include harsh penalties for exceeding tax thresholds. Ricketts: "It's a big shift, a bigger shift than I expected." He also indicated that he is "not sure how big the front office will grow, but he has encouraged [President of Baseball Operations Theo] Epstein to increase it as he sees fit." Addressing the perception that his honeymoon period as owner is over, Ricketts said, "In the end, if we win, people will think we were good owners. If we lose, we're bad owners" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/30).

CAREFUL WITH YOUR MONEY: In Illinois, Mike Imrem notes new owners "tend to provide baseball operations with financial leeway for a while before realizing whose money is being spent." As much confidence as Ricketts "has in Epstein, he might want to stay vigilant on the spending side of the Cubs." Imrem: "We don't know yet whether Epstein will be as liberal with the Ricketts family fortune. ... Maybe the onus is on Tom Ricketts to find a way to print money at Wrigley Field for Theo Epstein to play with" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 11/30).
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