SBD/May 23, 2014/Facilities

Ricketts Seemingly Asking For Litigation With Wrigley Revisions After Rooftop Impasse

Rooftops owners wanted a $250M buyout, but the Ricketts offered $50M
The Cubs "haven't gone into much detail regarding the planned revisions of their renovation plans for Wrigley Field," but they "hope to get the City Council and Commission on Chicago Landmarks to approve the changes soon, so they'll eventually have to provide more details and renderings," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Either way, it is "expected to be a battle for the ages revolving around a contract signed by the Cubs and rooftop owners 10 years ago." Mac Strategies Group President Ryan McLaughlin, whose firm represents the rooftop owners, said that the Cubs' new "hard-line stance will be 'resolved in a court of law.'" The battle for Wrigley "is just beginning, and it may take a while for a resolution." But it "already figures to be more interesting than the product on the field" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/23). The AP's Babwin & Keyser noted the Cubs and rooftop owners appear to be "headed toward the legal equivalent of bench-clearing brawl" (AP, 5/22). In Chicago, Hal Dardick notes Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney on Thursday "reiterated his opposition" to the renovation, which had a $500M valuation before the new revisions (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/23). Also in Chicago, Fran Spielman notes Wrigleyville community leaders on Thursday "reacted angrily to the Cubs’ request for more signs, seats and lights and warned of a political backlash if Mayor Rahm Emanuel agrees to it" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/23).

SO SUE ME: In Chicago, Rick Telander writes the fact that the Cubs have revealed these revisions indicates team execs "have figured out some legal loopholes and discovered how Chicago works." The Cubs "decided, after getting lawyered-up, to launch a hell-for-leather stampede." Telander: "Maybe this plan will work. Maybe Mayor Rahm Emanuel will ram it down voters’ throats before election day in February. ... Or maybe [Cubs Chair Tom] Ricketts just has said, screw it, we’ll pay them off" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/23). Also in Chicago, Greg Hinz cited sources as saying that prior negotiations between the Cubs and rooftop owners eventually "moved to a buyout," but "there was no agreement." One source said that the rooftops wanted $250M, but the Rickettses "were prepared to pay only" $50M (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 5/22). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's David Haugh writes with the video was a "remarkable scene to see the chairman of a professional sports team in that shabby setting going to such great lengths to prove Chicago's baseball cathedral really is a dump" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/23). ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg wrote a new Wrigley "will only help this team win and give the fans some well-deserved happiness." Greenberg: "I'm all for it. But I'll celebrate the end of this saga when a shovel hits the ground. Until then, it's just talk to me" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 5/22).

PLAYER REAX: In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer notes Ricketts' "latest media blitz ... was met in the Cubs’ clubhouse with 'excitement,' optimism and in some cases skepticism about what it will mean for the team’s competitive future." Most Cubs "won’t be around long enough for it to matter" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/23). Former Cubs and current Padres P Andrew Cashner said of Petco Park, "We're spoiled here. We have some of the best facilities in baseball. And Wrigley (Field), it's a dump." Cubs CF Ryan Kalish, who played with the Red Sox in '10 and '12, said, "Fenway is historical and old, but it's more upgraded. ... Wrigley is awesome, but it's outdated for the players" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/23).
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