Rogers: Ricketts deserves Wrigley reno money because, well, just because

Chicago Tribune sports columnist Phil Rogers has chimed in on the notion of kicking back $200 million in tax money to the Cubs so his employer’s former baseball team can renovate Wrigley Field, and he thinks it’s a spiffy idea. Why? Near as I can summarize it:

  • The White Sox, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks all got public money, so “why shouldn’t the Cubs get their share?” (In logic, this is known as the “But all the other kids have got one!” fallacy.)
  • Cubs owner Tom Ricketts doesn’t just do what’s “popular with their fans,” like signing free agents or hiring Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg to be manager.
  • “Rather than simply pledge allegiance to a continued stay in Arizona, they explored a move of spring-training operations to Florida.”
  • Wrigley Field costs $10 million in maintenance each offseason, and in a renovated Wrigley “that money — along with the proceeds from new or improved revenue streams — to be shifted into baseball operations.”

Nowhere in the article, you’ll notice, is anything supporting the subhead: “Investment in a solid sports team is a solid one for a city” (unless you count Ricketts’ assertion that spending public money on Wrigley would be “a no-brainer”). But when it’s a matter of giving taxpayer money to an unconventional owner bold enough to shake down Arizona for spring-training money, just so he can increase his player payroll (and/or profits), who’s going to quibble over economic details?


4 comments on “Rogers: Ricketts deserves Wrigley reno money because, well, just because

  1. I can’t believe I’m writing this…but I actually have HOPE that the Rickett’s plan WON’T go through, as both Mayor Daley and Governor Quinn have come out stating they are against the plan, particularly “in this economic climate.”
    Now, that said, Chicago & Illinois are the Land of Back-room deals, so there still exists a possibility that in addition to the promised state income tax increase, that the taxpayers of Illinois and Chicago may be on the hook for a renovation to venerable old, dumpy Wrigley Field…I wouldn’t be surprised if “an announcement” heralds an agreement between the Cubs and the state & city, that ultimately benefits the Cubs, while screwing the taxpayer.

  2. Phil Rogers is an idiot. He supports everything from Instant Replay, expanded playoffs to putting borderline players in the Hall of Fame. I read his stuff on a semi-daily basis, and I am just never impressed. He is basically baseball-mind poison. He is a mediocre baseball writer at best & he’s also a Cubs fan.

    Let the Kicketts family pay for the renovations. I couldn’t believe they actually had the gall to even ask for it at a time of $15 billion+ in IL deficits. What planet are they living on??

  3. Neil: in regard to point 1, Bill James calls that, and I love this, the “Once-you-lose-it” fallacy. Clearly, the only way forward once you’ve made a mistake is to keep repeating it ad nauseum.

    Daniel M: given the state of politics these days (or any day really, but it’s just more pronounced now), Daley and Quinn aren’t on board yet because Ricketts hasn’t promised them a cut yet, and/or what it will be. You’re completely correct, in other words. Once they get theirs, they’ll change their tunes immediately.

  4. The thing that always amazes me about these types of cash grabs is that they are always employed by wealthy owners who have just overpaid for the asset in question, sometimes by more than the amount they are seeking in subsidy.

    If an owner can cough up an extra $200m for his plaything, surely he can search the sofa cushions for for renovation money? Any business owner worth his salt budgets for both the purchase price and the cost of improvements needed.