Cubs, Chicago either really close to Wrigley reno deal or not

I’ve been avoiding saying much about the ongoing Wrigley Field renovation talks, because there really hasn’t been any official news. That doesn’t stop everybody, though, so we have Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business speculating that “a partial deal could be announced fairly soon that might well give the team enough to begin the reconstruction process.” Fairly soon. Might. Adds Hinz: “We’ll see.”

The main holdup at this point seems to be the fate of the rooftop owners across the street from Wrigley, who Cubs owner Tom Ricketts doesn’t think deserve any money from peeking in over the fence at his product, but who have become a major business force of their own and have alderman Tom Tunney on their side. You have to figure if that’s the only issue, some monetary compromise is possible, but this being Chicago politics there’ll no doubt be lots more drama before we get to that point.

In the meantime, we have the dulcet characters of ESPN’s Rick Reilly, arguing that the Cubs could be making an extra $73 million a year if they were playing somewhere other than Wrigley, which he calls “the old family dog that needs to be put down” and blames for the Cubs never having won a World Series during their time there. Except for that, you know, the Cubs are one of the most valuable teams in the league because people want to go Wrigley even when the team is terrible. And the Cubs had enough money to have the league’s third-highest payroll as recently as three years ago; the problem isn’t that Wrigley Field doesn’t generate revenues, it’s that the Cubs were spending it on Alfonso Soriano…

[UPDATE: Deadspin has happened upon an even better way of rebutting Rick Reilly.]

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9 comments on “Cubs, Chicago either really close to Wrigley reno deal or not

  1. I seriously wonder how much the Ricketts family is damaging the Cubs brand. The old Toyota sign & this is just another step closer to a “spite fence”.
    Blaming the stadium is just silly because many teams have gone through very long dry spells & the Cubs had finally turned into a large market team only in the past 2 decades after being so cheap & mismanaged.

  2. I think you laid down the law in another post in terms of personal attacks in the comments, but was that limited to other commenters? Can we takes shots at how phenomenally moronic (and hacky) Rick Reilly is?

  3. Personal attacks on people not present are totally welcome, especially since I’d be a hypocrite if I said otherwise. If Rick Reilly ever shows up here in comments, though, I hope you will join me in refraining from calling him “crack-addled” to his virtual face.

  4. If Reilly ever showed up here, you should make an exception. For $3.4 million a year (that’s $68,000 each column at his once-a-week rate), he should be able to take it.

  5. That amusement tax that Reilly is whining about…is that a pass through or a trust fund tax? If so, the Cubs would never get to keep it; they collect it in trust for the city or state and then hand it over. So the tax isn’t paid by them, it’s paid by the attendee (but remitted by the Cubs).

    And there are other problems with the assumptions, but I guess when you get to phone it in and no one cares what you write, that’s not a problem. But still, have a little pride…

  6. $3.4m a year??? Seriously?

    Maybe Cubs ownership isn’t the most scandalous thing on the planet (full disclosure: Cub Fan since 1981 and yes, I know, there are organizations out there designed to address these character flaws/defects…)

    Reilly is clearly out of touch. The Chicago Cubs would be worth at least $200m less playing anywhere other than their present neighbourhood. If Mr. Ricketts is so pissed off that he wants to take his new toy elsewhere, he should do so. It will cost him a great deal of money, but he can always make them the Schaumburg Cubs (as the Trib threatened to do in the mid 80’s when the neighbours wouldn’t sign off on the installation of lights at the stadium) if he really wants. The ‘rooftop partners’ will be outraged as they can no longer sell tickets to people who want to sit even farther from homeplate than the bleachers and pay extra for the privilege (in some cases). I’m not so sure the rest of the neighbourhood will be as upset… as they stand to lose less and gain more (less traffic in what is a residential area) than the rooftop fellows do.

    I’d agree with MP34. I didn’t think it would be possible for someone to mismanage a team and business so badly that they turned Cub fans off the Cubs (over a century of bad play hasn’t managed to make a dent, let’s face it)… but Ricketts is doing just that. Of course, scalping your own tickets and running a CBOE auction for seats doesn’t really make for a happy consumer experience… but this is the Ameritrade folks we’re talking about here, right?

  7. David: I believe it is a pass through, as you say. The Cubs collect it and forward it.

    However, in the avant garde world of sports ownership, this is seen as “their” money, because the owners believe that if the tax didn’t exist, they could charge an extra $2/seat or whatever it amounts to. In fact, that’s garbage because no team I am aware of actually publishes the tax cost on the ticket or website. They just include “taxes and fees not included” on the site, and leave you to wonder what else it is you will be paying on top of the ticket price, ticketbastard handling fee, state/county taxes and/or CBOE auction vig…pardon me, “Buyers premium”.

  8. Really? In my experience, admissions taxes are usually included in the ticket price. I certainly don’t recall any unexpected extra fees (other than StubHub/Ticketmaster) when I’ve bought Cubs tickets.

  9. Interesting. Perhaps I’m the odd one out (wouldn’t be the first time…) but every ticket I have bought is advertised at the face value price and has various and sundry other charges added on to the bill.

    Perhaps that’s a Canada only thing… but we have Ticketbastard up here too (unfortunately)

    Anyone else want to weigh in on the added fees experience?

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