Ricketts honors Wrigley’s 100th by proposing seven new ad boards, chopping hole in ivy wall

With his plans for major renovations to Wrigley Field held up in court, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has apparently decided to go for broke and just demand everything he can possibly imagine, testing the premise that Chicago officials will rubber-stamp anything he proposes and daring the owners of nearby rooftop viewing decks to sue him. Like every good supervillain, he issued his ultimatum via a video to the people of earth:

The list of new stuff that Ricketts wants includes:

  • Seven new video boards in the outfield, including three 650-square-foot signs in left field alongside a 4,000-square-feet video board (down from the originally proposed 5,700 square feet), plus another 2,400-square-foot video board and 650-square-foot sign in right.
  • Chopping out part of Wrigley’s ivy-covered brick wall so that bullpens can be moved from foul territory to under the bleachers.
  • New outfield light towers so that flyballs can be better lit.
  • Bigger clubhouses.
  • A death ray. (Not actually mentioned in Ricketts’ video, but you know he’s thinking it.)

The rooftop owners are no doubt going to sue Ricketts’ pants off over these revised plans, but then, they’re suing his pants off anyway, so no skin off his pants. The Chicago landmarks commission still needs to sign off on the new plan at its June 5 meeting — the Chicago Sun-Times speculates that “the revised proposal may appear to be so big as to invite rejection by [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel’s appointees on the Landmarks Commission,” but they’ve never rejected any of Ricketts’ plans before, and an Emanuel spokesperson said yesterday that “if this proposal helps the Cubs get closer to a ballpark renovation this fall … it’s worth taking a look at.” The city council, meanwhile, apparently doesn’t get another vote, because all this falls under the master plan it approved last year.

Anyway, Ricketts’ video does make one thing clear: This renovation is mostly about getting the right to slap ads on everything possible both inside and outside the stadium, because that’s money he could be making that he’s not. (Just look at the way the camera lingers oglingly on the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ advertising signage.) You can understand why Ricketts feels this way (monnnnnnnnnnneyyyyyyyyyyy!); why the landmarks commission should agree to it is another story, but I’m sure they’ll find their reasons.


23 comments on “Ricketts honors Wrigley’s 100th by proposing seven new ad boards, chopping hole in ivy wall

  1. It certainly appeared in his video, by his tone & reference to the stalled negotiations with the rooftop owners that is fed up, and is throwing down the proverbial gauntlet.
    Whether the new design gets approved, and whether if it does, they break ground in fall, is another matter…

  2. Saw a bit on the 4-letter about this. There must have been three or four mentions of the renovations being the cornerstone of the Cubs’ (in)ability to generate revenue.

    Weren’t the Cubs like 4th in revenue last season (or maybe the previous season)? They are 23rd in payroll this season (spending less than the Padres). That stadium generates plenty of money, very little of which is getting spent on players. That might be part of a longer term plan, which the Cubs might be executing fairly well (they have lots of cheap talent in the minors). But for Ricketts to cry poor makes him seem like either a spoiled child or a gigantic ass.

    Maybe both.

  3. No public money though – isn’t that what this site is all about? Looks like they are doing it the right way.

  4. No public money, but there is a public gift in the form of easing landmarks rules for Ricketts’ benefit. Whether you consider that okay or not likely depends on your feelings about landmarks rules.

  5. And no, “no public money” is not what this site is about. If I had to sum it up in three words, I’d need some of those really long German words, something like: “public-involvement for-private-profit-projects fair-payback-heit.”

  6. Didn’t they get an entire city block, which they plan to build a hotel. They also got the huge city sidewalk outside the outfield walls. Didn’t they also want to close off city streets and set up booths to sell stuff to gigantic ass cub fans.

  7. They were asking for at least 50% of the renovation money and were going to get it until daddy the real owner decided to blast OBAMA the Mayors former boss. The Ricketts got a new spring park 100% on the public done, and I believe a new minor league park also.

  8. The city will be asked to give up sidewalks and roadway on both Sheffield and Waveland. Both are two-way streets, and the Cubs renovations will result in making both one-way streets. Now, I understand that these streets are closed to cars on game days, but this new infringement on the roadway means that the street closure will effect the neighborhood year round. It should be noted that there is a firehouse on Waveland; will residents be able to sue if getting a firetruck to their house quicker would have saved them or their belongings???

    If no public funds are being used for this project, I would like to know the value of the land those streets are on that are being given to the Cubs. What are the value of the air-rights for the decks and signage they want to put over roadways?

    This isn’t “no public funding,” it is just a creative way of hiding that funding.

    This is a rich child, whining and crying until he gets his parents (in this case the mayor and residents of Chicago) to buy him a new toy. Heck, it worked with his daddy’s money, so why not keep at it, right?!?!?!

  9. On top of everything didn’t the Toyota sign already screw over the roof top guys somewhat? They didn’t due on that, yet according to cub fans they’re the bad guys.

  10. Wrigley is a dump. It needs to be done and more. Like I’ve said countless times before, this is one of the few stadiums that the taxpayers should and would happily foot the bill for replacing. It’s outdated and needs to go.

  11. Sports sheep on both sides of the street(s) in Wrigley”ville” will bleat bahh-bahh-bahh-we-want-our-fix for their favorite side and it’s the lawyers who come out ahead as usual.
    Could those sheep actually have the brains to just stay away from America’s largest outdoor bar and make both sides see some light? Nah, Bahh-bahh-bah…

  12. “The city will be asked to give up sidewalks and roadway on both Sheffield and Waveland. Both are two-way streets, and the Cubs renovations will result in making both one-way streets. Now, I understand that these streets are closed to cars on game days, but this new infringement on the roadway means that the street closure will effect the neighborhood year round. It should be noted that there is a firehouse on Waveland; will residents be able to sue if getting a firetruck to their house quicker would have saved them or their belongings???”

    Outside of game days, Waveland and Sheffield are both side streets, Sheffiled occasionaly has a few cars, but Waveland – you could close it down permanently, and the net effect on traffic on the neighborhood would be, for all intents and purposes, zero.

    Roger is right. Wrigley IS a dump, and its not even all the rooftops owners – it is only 2 of the 10-12 owners that are holding this up. Ricketts has, for all the implied nefarious intentions 9some of which I am sure are true) negotiated publicly and in seeming good faith over a year with the rooftopers, and they have constantly changed the terms of debate, asked for this, then no that, then no this other thing, and they have the local alderman – whom it should be known receives considerably more campaign funding from the rooftop owners than from the Cubs or the Ricketts family – doing their bidding. He (Tom Ricketts) may indeed be some evil Obama hating hick from Nebraska, but he is getting dicked around by the community which is totally dependent on his business for their property values and for the most part of their livelihoods. Wrigleyville – Wrigley = Uptown (a blighted urban neighborhood just north of the park I lived in for many years).

    One thing I have tried to mention on this forum before is that no other MLB team – for that matter, probably no other major sports team in the US – has to deal with the restrictive covenants and limits to development and refurbishing that the Cubs have to deal with. Sure, it’s a temple, but it’s also a run down temple, and it needs to be fixed. It may be not exactly the way we all want it, but really, IT’S A DUMP! I live less than 2 miles away, I attend dozens of games a year as a season ticket holder, and it sucks. I go, sure, but still. It needs t be fixed, and the barrier now is literally 2 or 3 people who happen to own buildings nearby.

  13. As easy as it is to buy a judge in Chicago, the Facts are clear and the cubs will have to pay. Most voters in that part of town are not stupid and that Alderman Runny is going to pay dearly come election time.

  14. The Rooftop “partners” have a contract with the Cubs. The contract (at least as it is commonly known) precludes any development that will impair the view of the rooftop partners (any or all).

    Ricketts can either buy his way out of that agreement (and as noted here before, he was a partner in one of the rooftop businesses years ago… so he should really know what the contract says…) or he can accept a court decision that, frankly, seems likely to go against him and pay what he is ordered to pay (or “just lump it”).

    As with most contractual issues, this one is about money. If Ricketts really wants those ad boards, all he has to do is buy his way out of the contract he has with the (affected) rooftop owners. Like all spoiled children, Ricketts believes if he cries enough someone will give that to him for nothing.

    He can probably get the landmarks commission to agree to anything. He can’t get out of the rooftop partnership contract without paying. Nor should he be able to do so. Like them or loathe them, the rooftop businesses made significant investments in their properties and have a contract with the team that make them partners.

    As for the other renovations (that others say are badly needed – something I tend to agree with in certain cases), he can do those any time he wants. The only thing stopping him from commencing that work is commission agreement and Ricketts himself. He just wants the fans to blame the rooftop partners for the fact that he isn’t doing anything at all.. standard evil ogre tactics really.

    Lastly… not that we needed more evidence that he is out of touch with what being a Cub fan means… but here it is:

    Moving the bullpens? Seriously? Hurling abuse on opposing pitchers warming up mere feet away from you is part of the Wrigley experience. Moving the bullpens has more to do with creating additional doors which can then be used as advertising spaces… see the bleacher doors etc.

  15. “Outside of game days, Waveland and Sheffield are both side streets, Sheffiled occasionaly has a few cars, but Waveland – you could close it down permanently, and the net effect on traffic on the neighborhood would be, for all intents and purposes, zero.”

    Having lived on Grace (1 block north) at Wilton (1 block east of Wrigley)—much closer than the two miles away that you live—I can tell you that claim about Waveland is entirely false.

    I’d argue the same about Wrigleyville – Wrigley = Uptown.

    Maybe once upon a time (25-30 years ago), that neighborhood wasn’t exactly booming, but now property in Wrigley is pretty pricey. A large percentage of the shit buildings have been torn down and replaced (and is still happening). There are still kids in their first apartment out of college living in the area, but it is way more older and stable income earners who like being a) in a urban setting and b) near the lake. Currently both the team and the neighborhood still benefit from a mostly symbiotic relationship, but at this point the Cubs need the neighborhood more than vice versa. As a residential area it would do just fine without the Cubs. The bars and restaurants would get hit pretty hard (think the Metro and the Gingerman would still be okay) but, again, the residents in the area probably wouldn’t mind too much if their neighborhood was no longer a mini-New Orleans 81 days of the year.

    If the Cubs left to Wheaton or Crystal Lake or wherever, the Cubs would be the losers.

  16. Neil, the fans LOVE that team. I think I went to a midweek afternoon game in the summer against the Rockies. It was one of the worst baseball games I’d ever seen in my life, but the place was packed and the fans were buying beer after beer, totally into the game. I think it would be extremely easy to take up a collection in Chicago’s North Side and build a new stadium, no question. Easiest sell you’d ever see in your life. There’s a reason the Cubs haven’t won in years, and that’s because free agents probably are refusing to play there. I used to go to the old Tigers Stadium. That place would probably have still been amazing today. Very charming, yet completely functional as a Major League ballpark, save for suites and all that. Now, I wouldn’t give up Comerica for the old Tigers Stadium, but I love it. It’s just time for Wrigley to go. As much as I hate the stadium financing scams going on today, I think the Cubs deserve a new stadium any way they can get it, as long as they don’t come crying for a new one 16 years from now, lol.

  17. “There’s a reason the Cubs haven’t won in years, and that’s because free agents probably are refusing to play there.”

    Actually, the Cubs have been able to sign plenty of free agents over the years. They’ve just all sucked:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/723320-a-waste-of-money-the-10-worst-signings-in-chicago-cubs-history/

  18. Except I don’t see any signs that the Cubs have been trying to sign better free agents over the years, but they’ve gotten turned down and had to settle for Milton Bradley. They’ve just made really awful decisions.

    Look, I have no problem with the idea that Wrigley Field could use some new clubhouses or whatever — the place hasn’t had much work done on it in recent decades, certainly not compared to a place like Fenway. But lumping that together with “We want seven new ad boards in the outfield because all the other kids have them” is just plain disingenuous. And there’s no reason to think that either will help the Cubs compete on the field — the team has plenty of money now, and that hasn’t helped, though to what degree that’s management stupidity, management not caring because fans will show up anyway, or goat curses is anyone’s guess.

  19. Have you ever been to Wrigley Field? Trust me, they need ALL of that! It is NOT a modern ballpark. Many times during the game that I went to, I couldn’t see the score, stats or anything. Without those screens, advertisers also can’t reach the audience, and that costs the Cubs money. The upper deck is a LONG way to walk. It’s just an uncomfortable experience. I know, it sounds like whining, but the stadium is massively outdated and long overdue for…something.

  20. I’ve been to Wrigley many times, most recently in 2009. The upper deck is actually much lower than in more modern stadiums, but yes, there are no escalators. Of course, there won’t be escalators under Ricketts’ plan either, so that won’t change regardless.

    As for it costing the Cubs money that they don’t have more ad boards: I couldn’t agree with you more. I also don’t see why that should be a priority for the Chicago landmarks board, Cubs fans, or anyone whose surname isn’t Ricketts.

  21. The Cubs identity is wrapped in Wrigley, take that away and they become like any other team that never wins. .

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