Ricketts says thanks for approving Wrigley reno plan, but he’ll blow it up unless he gets more concessions

So as I was saying last week, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has won approval of his Wrigley Field renovation plan, and now can go ahead with spending $500 million on adding video boards and ad signage all over the ballpark since there’s nothing left in dispute — wait, what’s that now?

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts issued a statement declaring his family is not willing to start work until the rooftop club owners with lucrative views into the ballpark agree not to sue if new outfield advertising signs block their sightlines…

Also muddying the water is the Cubs’ agreement to defer their request to build a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street to link the hotel they want to build with an office-retail complex and plaza. In exchange for giving that up, the Cubs want Tunney to consider other moneymaking options for them, a team source said.

Those include an archway over Clark with advertising and a new spectator deck behind the right-field bleachers. To build that deck, the right-field wall would have to be moved onto Sheffield Avenue 8 feet more than first envisioned. That would remove a lane of traffic, and the deck would extend over the remaining width of the street.

Seriously? The landmarks board and the city council gives you 95% of what you asked for, and you respond by making more demands?

No word from Tunney yet on this latest proposal — he’s still laying low after last week’s promise to be “up the [Cubs’] butt” about being good neighbors. The spectator deck idea raises a bigger question, though: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been praised for getting Ricketts to pursue renovation plans without demanding public subsidies, but at a certain point, it might be worth trying to calculate the value of the street space that Chicago is handing over to Ricketts for all his bleacher expansion plans. (I’m pretty sure the Cubs also still get to close off streets and use them as an expanded concessions area on game days, at least on summer weekends, though nobody’s been talking about it lately.) Adding that plus the value of erecting ad signage along public streets means that Chicago is putting in some significant amount of non-cash subsidies to the project — still probably better than handing over $200 million in cash, but it’d be cool if someone could calculate the value here. Anyone?


9 comments on “Ricketts says thanks for approving Wrigley reno plan, but he’ll blow it up unless he gets more concessions

  1. Wait, this is a win. All the rooftop owners have to do is not agree to not sue and Ricketts will never start construction (or at least until the contracts run out in, what, 2019).

    But Ricketts… seems kind of like a giant spoiled prick.

  2. Seems like a very iffy kind of leverage: “We refuse to start working on changes to our ballpark until some folks who will gain no benefit from the changes agree to not sue us over them.”

    Of course, any threats from the Cubs are the epitome of leverage-free.

  3. Yeah, it is weird, isn’t it? The only thing I can think is that Ricketts is trying to send a message to the Chicago council: “I won’t do this if I might get sued, so in order to keep me from getting sued, you have to approve my right field party deck.” Which would be an awfully strange bit of gamesmanship, but it makes more sense than anything else.

  4. Status Quo is best, do nothing until as Michael mentions 2019. I don’t believe the Cubs will move to suburbs, but if they do , at least we know Wrigley will still be preserved.

  5. Baseball franchises and their places of business were a part of neighborhoods, now they take ’em over.
    The more owners cozy up to politicians the trend will continue.
    The only way to curb this behavior is to withhold your $$$’s
    from franchises and votes from pol’s, otherwise the trend will continue. Can sheep change their ways?

  6. As far as I am concerned, the Chicago Cubs can move to Omaha. And that Kudzu-walled eyesore at Clark & Addison can finally be torn down.

  7. Yep, the Cubs have zero leverage. Two scenarios if they move: The White Sox paywhatever penalty there is and move to Wrigley, or…

    A Triple A team moves in, tickets are all $25 and below, plus it gets used for Concerts, College Football, fantasy camps, etc. The Triple A team of course will outdraw the suburban Cubs on most weekends.

    In short, the Cubs aren’t going anyplace. Never were.