SBD/February 20, 2014/Facilities

Wait 'Til Next Year? Cubs Aiming For Season's End To Begin Wrigley Field Renovations

Ricketts expressed optimism that the Cubs would be able to finish the project
While the Cubs "had hoped to begin Wrigley Field's renovation plans this offseason," team Chair Tom Ricketts yesterday said that he now "hopes the work will get started after the 2014 regular season ends," according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Ricketts: "There's no real update. Like I've always said, I think we have a lot of incentive to get it done. Everyone has incentive to get it done. ... It's our goal to get the (Wrigley Field) project started at the end of the season. I'm not sure if there's a hard date that goes with that." Meanwhile, Ricketts said that it is "too early to predict what will happen" with the Cubs' negotiations for new radio and TV contracts with WGN (MLB.com, 2/19). CSNCHICAGO.com's Patrick Mooney noted Ricketts "expressed optimism 'we'll get to the finish line on this,' which is something Cubs fans have heard before." Ricketts said of the renovation project, "You can't just pretend Wrigley Field's another ballpark. Like something built out in some suburb somewhere that's 20 years old and nobody cares about. I don't think it would be realistic to say that ripping a page out of any other team's playbook would really apply to us. We have a special situation. We respected that and acted accordingly. ... The truth is we still have to get this done, and we're not quite there yet. And if we can't ride it out these last few steps, I don't know what's going to happen." Mooney wrote Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the rooftop owners "wouldn't take the Cubs seriously if they threatened to move to Rosemont." Ricketts "admitted as much during Wednesday’s state-of-the-team news conference at Cubs Park." Ricketts said that the team "plans to have a new Budweiser sign up in right field by Opening Day" (CSNCHICAGO.com, 2/19).

HOME SWEET HOME
: In Chicago, David Haugh writes Ricketts, while "showing a hint of annoyance ... did his best Wednesday to discourage a compelling debate in Chicago everywhere outside his office." The "curt response came after a reporter asked Ricketts at what point he would consider moving the Cubs out of Wrigley Field." Had Ricketts "ever exercised the leverage relocation offered him -- and meant it -- the rooftop owners likely would have relented." His "affection for Wrigley is no act, which brings his heart as much as his head to the negotiating table." Ricketts "met his wife, Cecilia, in the bleachers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/20).

J'ACCUSE! In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer reports Ricketts yesterday "adamantly denied" his family is "taking profits at the expense of spending on the baseball operation." Ricketts: "Profit-taking? I'm not even sure what that means. Of course not. Absolutely not. That's ridiculous." But Wittenmyer notes Ricketts "fell far short of explaining where the fifth-highest revenues in the sport are being spent as the baseball operation ... deals with a decade-low payroll." If the Cubs are "waiting for revenue-producing changes to Wrigley Field that are still held up by 'ongoing' negotiations with rooftop owners -- along with increases in local TV and radio deals that are 'too early to predict' -- it’s going to be too late." Losses in attendance at Wrigley Field this season -- which could exceed $22M "if internal projections of a 300,000 decrease are accurate -- will be offset by nearly half by the new Budweiser sign" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/20). 
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