Are pretty pictures distracting or what? In my rush to report on the Chicago Cubs‘ latest round of renovation plans for Wrigley Field, I neglected to mention that Cubs president Crane Kenney dropped a threat to move out of Chicago if the city doesn’t let the team have its way:
“If we don’t control our ballpark, then we have to look at other options, and we would work with the city on that,” Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said. “We would first look in the city.”
“Look at other options” is the sports-handbook-approved way of brandishing the move threat saber — see the Los Angeles Angels, the Sacramento Kings, et al. — so don’t put too much stock into this, especially since the team’s revenues would almost certainly plummet if they moved to the suburbs. (And moving elsewhere in the city would require the approval of the same city government that’s set to determine how much Cubs owner Tom Ricketts “controls his ballpark” as far as putting ad signage all over it.) What it does indicate is that this means war.
It may seems strange for Kenney to be going to war with an opponent who has been happy to concede to any and all of his demands so far, but there are some early signs that the love affair between the Cubs and the city over renovations has hit a rocky patch:
While Cubs officials had indicated the latest plan would be considered at a June 5 hearing of the city Commission on Landmarks, [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel said that won’t happen.
“This recent submission is not ready for next week,” Emanuel said of the Cubs’ proposal. “They have work to do.”
An Emanuel administration source said the Cubs failed to share some details about the latest expansion plan with the mayor and senior City Hall officials, including relocating the ballpark’s bullpens to underneath the bleachers. … The mayor also is frustrated that the Cubs are returning to City Hall seeking more signs after a deal already had been carefully crafted last year, the source said.
“There are things like the bullpen that nobody had ever seen before,” Emanuel said after the City Council meeting. “And so that’s why it’s not ready for next week and they have their work to do.”
The Chicago Tribune speculates that Emanuel wants the “political victory” of getting Wrigley renovations done, but not “the appearance that the Cubs and Ricketts managed to push him around.” So either this is for political show, or Ricketts and Kenney actually managed to annoy Emanuel with their last-second additional demands, and he’s going to make them wait outside like bad dogs before … probably having the new plans approved, but not until July? That would be my guess, given how this has played out so far.
Meanwhile, Kenney’s saber-rattling serves to keep up the “we have to do something for the Cubs or they’ll leave!” pressure, which serves him and Emanuel, really. Just like the last time he threatened to move while denying he was threatening to move. Because that’s what sports team execs do.