Cubs Alienating Fans In Peoria With Fan Caravan Changes, Relocation Of Single-A Team
The Cubs are "alienating some hard-core ... fans in Downstate Illinois, resulting in hard feelings and accusations they have surrendered Peoria to the archenemy Cardinals," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The "saga began last November when the Cubs told a Peoria booster club they would keep the annual Cubs Caravan nearer to Chicago." The banquets have "been in Peoria every January for four decades." Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green said that the team is "focusing on local community projects, which they did Thursday during stops at local schools, hospitals and a Marine base, painting murals and serving meals." Sullivan writes, "No one disputes the Cubs' right to do community work in Chicago, and their charitable work is laudable." But it is "short-sighted decisions like this that make people wonder whether the Rickettses have any public relations sense whatsoever." Meanwhile, the Cardinals' fan caravan this year "has 19 stops in Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Illinois, where a group will travel Sunday to Peoria, Springfield and Mattoon." Peoria is considered "predominantly Cubs' territory, with the Cardinals a close second." But the Cubs last year changed their Single-A affiliate from the Midwest League Peoria Chiefs to the Midwest League Kane County Cougars, which "some see as the main reason for the team canceling the caravan stop." The Peoria Chiefs then "went back to being a Cardinals' affiliate" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/17).
GOING BEAR HUNTING: In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer notes the Cubs have "set aside a sizable chunk of their middle-of-the-pack payroll budget" to stay in the hunt for Japanese Pacific League Rakuten Eagles P Masahiro Tanaka, "sacrificing possible acquisitions early in the offseason to have the wherewithal to make a serious run." Sources said that the Cubs' front office is "making its strongest bid, based on the limits placed by a debt-strung, skittish-to-spend ownership." But the team "doesn't have the resources to be able to outspend big-ticket mistakes" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/17).