Cubs co-owner once got so steamed at mayor for refusing subsidy demands that he suggested selling or moving team

This doesn’t quite rise to the level of news per se, but it’s getting lots of attention and it’s a Deadspin scoop and they’re nice and pay me money to write for them, so what the heck: Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts once got so mad at an interview where Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel bragged about refusing the team’s stadium subsidy demands that he suggested moving the Cubs out of town.

Having received a final proposal for the Ricketts investment in the Cubs, Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune [in 2013]:

When I first started this discussion, the Cubs wanted $200 million in taxpayer dollars. I said no. Then they said we’d like $150 million, and I said no. Then they asked whether they could have $100 million in taxpayer subsidies, and I said no. Then they asked about $55 million in taxpayer subsidies. I said no. The good news is, after 15 months they heard the word ‘No.’”

Todd Ricketts, a prominent Republican fundraiser and the current finance chariman of the Republican National committee, forwarded the story to his father and siblings, writing:

I think we should contemplate moving, or at least recognize that we are maybe not the right organization to own the Cubs.

That’s pretty weak tea, but it is amusing to see that the hissy fits thrown by rich dudes come off just as petty in private emails as in public statements. But then, Todd Ricketts is a guy whose dad, according to another part of the email cache that Deadspin’s sister site Splinter has uncovered, once sent his entire family a list of bullet points about how great rich people are, so it only makes sense that he’d respond to being told “no” on his subsidy demands by threatening to take his ball and go home. He didn’t do it — the Cubs are the third most valuable team in baseball precisely because they play in Chicago, so presumably either his siblings talked him down or he came to his senses — but as a first reaction, that’s so very Ricketts.


12 comments on “Cubs co-owner once got so steamed at mayor for refusing subsidy demands that he suggested selling or moving team

  1. A list of ways in which the Ricketts family being very rich is good for America, AND a family constitution.

    You just can’t make this stuff up….

    • Yeah I just read all the emails. They’re unbelievable and well worth the time.

      I was astonished to learn that the Ricketts are a) not very bright or articulate and b) *true believers,* just repeating to one another conservative talking points (climate change cyclical, Obama a socialist, etc0.

      • My own experience with billionaires indicates that neither intelligence nor business savvy are requirements of the job.

  2. And the additions/amenities they are adding to Wrigley Field are catering to their wealthy peers;
    The “American Airlines 1914 Club,” which is located behind home plate, the “Maker’s Mark Barrel Room,” which will be on the first-base side; the “W Club” on the third-base side; and the “ Catalina Club,” which will be located on the upper level under the press box. NONE of which will be open to the general public ticket buyer…you have to be a season ticket owner at the outrageous price point they established. It’s no wonder that the last couple seasons post-World Series Win, the amount of open seats at all games was somewhat shocking…either some fans are happy Cubs won WS in 2016 and don’t feel need to see team in-person, or fans have been outpriced by the going ticket rate for any and all Cubs games, despite time of year or opponent.

    • I think it’s more than just the pricing point Dan. After all, they will set the price at a level where they generate maximum revenue (though not necessarily every year, they are playing the long game I’m sure).

      Like many Cub fans outside Chicago, it was the Trib’s broadcasting arm that lured me into the Cubs’ world via WGN on satellite in the late 1970s early 1980s. People forget that the Cubs were playing to crowds of under 15,000 with some regularity in those days.

      Anyway, I’ve been a Cub fan most of my adult life. But a decade of Ricketts ownership and the club is unrecognizable to me (insert winning joke here). Almost everything about the organization has changed under the Ricketts family. It is an alien world to me, and I don’t think I’m alone among long time Cub fans in that.

      I used to shake my head when studies of White Sox season ticket holders showed that a significant percentage of them weren’t actually White Sox fans, they just hated the Cubs.

      Though I’m not there yet, that no longer seems like a non-sequitor to me….

      Still, the Ricketts family won’t miss us. There are plenty of wealthier newbie fans to extract ever more money from.

  3. Nothing of value would be lost if we just tossed the whole Ricketts clan into the blast furnace of a coal plant.

  4. I think plenty of people think they are “maybe not the right organization to own the Cubs.”

  5. Mayor Emanuel had many flaws, but I always respected the way he stood up ro Rickets and told him to pay for his own stadium. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the new mayor is going to handle the White Sox and Bears in the not too distant future. Both teams i believe have leases expiring in the next 10 or so years.