Emanuel to Cubs: If you’re going to be like that, no June vote on Wrigley renovations for you

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.


9 comments on “Emanuel to Cubs: If you’re going to be like that, no June vote on Wrigley renovations for you

  1. Dear Cubs ownership and management:

    Re: Threats to move

    In case Rahm didn’t do it, “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…”

    It helps to visualize me doing this in your face.

    Sincerely,
    A neighbor

  2. Re: “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 ”

    I believe that about covers it! The Machiavellian Emanuel wants a political victory, AND he is pissed that the Cubs organization has now thrown down everything but the kitchen sink in renovation/designs to Wrigley.

    A few commenters on your previous post regarding The Rickett’s questioned why the Cubs don’t simply buy-out all the rooftop owners…maybe the Cubs offered a fair market purchase price and were rebuffed. I’m sure many rooftop owners have HUGE/RIDICULOUS dollar signs in their eyes thinking about all the money to be made IF and WHEN the Cubs finally get to the World Series…

  3. 20000, that’s how many people go for the baseball game itself itself. This is why the rest of baseball is trying to duplicate what the cubs lucked into with that location..

  4. I don’t envy the Ricketts’ task, but can’t help but feel they’ve mismanaged the planning and execution of this project at every turn. There’s a certain aloofness hanging over all their public statements and actions, while all the while they are crying poor due to their current revenue situation. It’s not as though they were unaware of the team’s financial situation when they agreed to purchase the Cubs, so I have no sympathy for their plight.

    I can’t help but juxtapose the Ricketts’ posture with the post above it about billionaires investing in sports teams as their personal toys. I wasn’t expecting the Ricketts family to come in and spend like a drunken sailor on leave, but thought surely with billionaires at the helm the purse strings would loosen a bit. Sadly, they appear to be penalizing us fans for the steep $800+ million debt service that is likely dragging them into the red (even though I suspect the team remains operationally profitable – especially with the small-market payrolls of recent years).

    They may get lucky yet if Emanuel ultimately acquiesces to their latest demands and doesn’t delay the renovation until next year and the blue chip prospects may pan out. Still, this success will not owe to the achievements of ownership, but rather occur in spite of their efforts – intentional or otherwise – to undermine it.

  5. “all the while they are crying poor due to their current revenue situation”

    Bloomberg has them 4th in revenue (pretty cool infographic)
    http://www.bloomberg.com/infographics/2013-10-23/mlb-team-values.html

    Similar to what Forbes has:
    http://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/

    If the Cubs have a ‘revenue situation’ it’s because they aren’t spending it on MLB players.
    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24573214/report-mlbpa-concerned-about-cubs-lack-of-spending

  6. Since Ricketts and co own both the club and the stadium, which is protected (in a manner of speaking) by landmark status, I for one would love to see them make good on the move card…

    Though I do wonder how he’ll pay for upkeep on the stadium he owns that he no longer plays in… can’t imagine there’ll be a huge market for advertising boards in a stadium that is never on TV. Maybe he could turn them around and advertise to the lakeview residents… but even so, I’d expect a significant drop in the revenue he can earn from signs that aren’t facing 40,000 people and don’t appear on continent wide television.

  7. Somehow I doubt the Chicago landmarks commission would approve outward-facing signage for the owner of the Skokie Cubs.

  8. Are the Cubs going to threatened to move to Montreal? Hahahahaha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

56,134 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

HTML tags are not allowed.