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February 14, 2012

Cubs deny South Side shift to make way for Wrigley renovations

The Chicago Cubs could be moving to the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field for 2013!

Should team brass decide that the time is ripe for -- and they secure funds for -- a renovation of Wrigley Field, they could move their games across town to U.S. Cellular Field -- home of the sometimes-rival Chicago White Sox -- sources said...

"I have never heard of a done deal of moving home games to the 'Cell," said Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the Ricketts family.
Workers at U.S. Cellular tell a different story. They say they are being warned of a much busier 2013 season (as in, prepare for double the games). Bridgeport bar owners tell a similar story.

The Chicago Cubs won't be moving to the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field for 2013!

A direct phone call to Cubs spokesman Dennis Culloton cleared the Wrigleyville chatter right up.
"It could not be more false," Culloton said.
When major renovations do take place, they will be carried out in the off season.

What, exactly, is going on here? Certainly, Culloton's denials aren't exactly ironclad — "I have never heard of a done deal" is about as non-denial a denial as you'll find — but then, too, given that Fenway Park was effectively renovated during several offseasons, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Cubs to give up their main attendance draw for a season (that'd be Wrigley, unless Cubs fans are way more excited about watching Dale Sveum manage than I am) and play tenants to their main rivals just to get the rebuilding done a bit faster. And that's even before taking into account the fact that there's still no deal in place to pay for any reconstruction, which makes talk of any 2013 action premature at best.

This is going deep into conjecture, but my best guess would be that either this was a trial balloon floated by the Cubs to see if fans would freak out at the notion of going to the South Side for games for a season, or a leak of internal discussions to see if U.S. Cellular would be an option should renovations be too extensive to take place entirely in the offseason. In either case, though, it's an indication that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is serious about a Wrigley redo (assuming he can line up the funds), and that it'll likely be a substantial project, landmark laws or no landmark laws. Which means it's likely the Cubs will at least be battling over something of importance this summer, even if it's not the NL Central.



Well, I recall a White Sox fan survey done a decade or two ago... I forget the reason (probably all about what was wrong with old Comiskey and why they should get public funding for a new one, which would suggest it was longer ago than I remember...), but one of the intriguing conclusions for Cub fans was that somewhere around 15% of White Sox season ticket holders don't actually like or cheer for the White Sox, they just hate the Cubs.

Posted by John Bladen on February 14, 2012 11:31 AM

Neil, I agree with your surmising that the US Cell talk may have been a trial balloon to gauge support/feedback.
Despite the state of the national, state, AND city economy, Rahm Emmanuel has shown a predilection for giving MILLIONS in TIF funds to corporations in Chicago,despite budget constraints and a local economy floundering. This corporate welfare is justified as "keeping jobs in the city," which is a rationalization that is laughable (see The Chicago Readers countless articles on the slush fund that is the TIF program in Chicago).
It's only a matter of time before an announcement will be trumpeted that the Cubs/Rickett's will be given TIF funding/and/or massive tax breaks to renovate Wrigley Field...and it will be justified as "good for the local economy...JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!" We've all seen this movie before, and know how it plays out...

Posted by Dan M on February 14, 2012 12:03 PM

Wrigley Field needs a reno and quickly;aura or no aura.A year on the south side is the best move.

Posted by David B. on February 14, 2012 02:30 PM

I remember going to a Yankee game in 1974 when they played home games at Shea Stadium. Yankee Stadium was basically being gutted and rebuilt so they had no choice but to play in the park of their cross-town rivals, the Mets. Something just didn't seem right seeing those pinstripes in the dreary confines of Shea Stadium, across the street from a bunch of car parts shops and with a Serval Zipper tower nearby. And I was a Mets fan!

Posted by bobster1985 on February 14, 2012 04:11 PM

@ bobster1985

It must be so exciting to go to the new Citifield and see all that redevelopment unfolding before your eyes. Sometimes when you get off the #7 it must seem like 100 years in the future from that time in 1974 when Shea Stadium was surrounded by junk yards and the like.

Thank goodness for entertainment districts!

Posted by Andrew T on February 14, 2012 05:11 PM

@Andrew T

That's "Commercially Viable" junk yards to you, sir.

Posted by AGS on February 16, 2012 09:40 AM

@Andrew T

That's "Commercially Viable" junk yards to you, sir.

Posted by AGS on February 16, 2012 09:53 AM

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