SBD/March 19, 2013/Facilities

Mayor Of Chicago Suburb Tries To Lure Cubs With New Ballpark, Fewer Restrictions

Rosemont, Ill. Mayor Brad Stephens said that he is "willing to give" the Cubs and team Owner the Ricketts family a 25-acre parcel of land that is "a prime piece of real estate large enough to accommodate a new ballpark as well as parking and anything else the Ricketts family would desire to have as part of the new complex," according to David Kaplan of CSNCHICAGO.com. Stephens said, "The Chicago Cubs are being held hostage by the neighborhood as they look to run their business. We are willing to offer them a tremendous opportunity if they are interested. Bring the bricks and the ivy and we can get a deal done." The Cubs have "looked to renovate 99-year-old Wrigley Field since the Ricketts family purchased the team from the Tribune Company in October of 2009." The team currently pays "an amusement tax" of 12%, while Rosemont's amusement tax is 3% (CSNCHICAGO.com, 3/18). In Chicago, Fran Spielman notes Stephens portrayed Rosemont "as a 'pro-development' community willing to remove all of the Chicago restrictions on night games, signage and street fairs that have cost the Cubs tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue." Rosemont spokesperson Gary Mack acknowledged that Stephens "has met with Cubs underlings, but never directly" with team Chair Tom Ricketts. Ricketts family spokesperson Dennis Culloton said that the Cubs "remain focused on getting a deal done in Chicago." Culloton in a statement said, "The family appreciates the expressions of interest from Rosemont and others, however, the current focus is to work toward an agreement with the city of Chicago" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/19).

WORTH A SECOND LOOK? In Illinois, Mike Imrem writes, "While others wonder why Rosemont would even suggest luring the Cubs, a better question is why not?" Stephens "never should be underestimated." The community is "a beast that will gobble up any entertainment venue that would help get outsiders to spend money there." Imrem: "So why shouldn't Rosemont position itself for any potential development, and why shouldn't the Cubs seriously ponder the possibilities of a free 25 acres of land for a replica Wrigley, lower amusement taxes, accommodating politicians, advertising signage inside the ballpark and an unlimited number of night games during an 81-game home schedule?" Suburban sprawl is now "so far out that getting to games in Rosemont would be a pleasure compared to traveling to Wrigleyville." The town is "situated to attract both urban and suburban fans." But the risk is the Cubs would "lose one advantage: They can lose 101 games and still draw from 2.5 million to 3 million fans to Wrigley Field" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 3/19).
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