WRIGLEY WATCH: Chicago Is Giving the Cubs Every Reason to Leave

“Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th, said Thursday that he would not sign off on a deal unless it included more parking, better police protection and “aesthetic” assurances sought by Wrigleyville residents and businesses — all issues that have yet to be settled.

Reminded that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for an agreement, in part because the Ricketts family that owns the Cubs is not asking for any government funding, Tunney replied, “Yeah, but it’s not going to be on the backs of my community, sorry.”

The Rickettses have maintained that a deal needs to get done by Opening Day in early April so they can line up the contractors and materials needed to fix up their aging ballpark, but Tunney dismissed that concern.

“You’re talking about one of the wealthiest families in America,” the alderman told a throng of City Hall reporters pressing him on the issue. “End of statement.”

That load of political BS was from the Tribune, where Alderman and Professional Extortionist, Tom Tunney, made it clear that he wants his hands filled before he does the right thing.  None of it makes sense, however, when you break this bit of complete stupidity into pieces:

  • I can see how parking is an issue, especially since I come down from Wisconsin for trips to Wrigley.  With that said, parking is not going to get much better than it is with the current location of the ballpark.  It just isn’t.  You can’t have a park in the middle of a neighborhood and expect that you can just make parking appear.  I would assume the hotel that is being proposed for the McDonald’s property would have some parking.  I doubt it’ll be sufficient for a full park’s attendance, but it would probably be better than what is there now, and even if it’s not, the DeVry University remote parking is an affordable and good option for nights and weekends.  Police protection is on the city.  Period.  As far as “aesthetic assurances,” I am with all of those who say that the ballpark isn’t aesthetically pleasing now in the concourse area, but the renovation would enhance it.  I know the alder-crook is talking about the roof top owners who line his pockets politically.  As far as residents and businesses go, somebody should get the pulse of the property and business owners’ feelings about the Cubs leaving.  Their businesses closing and property value plummeting wouldn’t be ideal for any of them, which would be the result of the Cubs moving out of the neighborhood.
  • The same logic applies when he talks about the renovation being “on the backs of [his] community.”  That community is nothing without the Cubs and Wrigley Field.  I can’t imagine that they want to see a half billion dollars of private improvement to their cash cow packing its bags.
  • Lastly, he is right about the wealth of the Ricketts family.  It begs the question, why push it?  They are wealthy, and they are proposing to sink $500 million into the ballpark and surrounding area.  All of the work they propose would be paid for out of their own pockets.  Sounds like a sweet deal for the city.

For those who haven’t been paying too much attention, Tom Ricketts announced a partnership with the Chicago Athletic Club, and that a state-of-the-art fitness center would be built in the Sheraton Hotel proposed for the McDonald’s property across from Wrigley (very well discussed on the Bleacher Nation Blog).  The grand total in improvements to the park and area is half a billion dollars.  WITH NO PUBLIC FUNDING AT ALL!

I continue to be a proponent of the Cubs actively and seriously considering options in the suburbs.  This is exactly why.  When coupling this statement with Tunney trying to extort repairing a train stop and building a park on

Photo: Chicago Cubs Conceptual Image of Renovated Wrigley Field

Photo: Chicago Cubs Conceptual Image of Renovated Wrigley Field

the back of “one of the wealthiest families in America,” it appears that there is no deal to be had.

The best leverage to broker a deal with the city has to be actively looking for other places to build a ballpark and hotel/ health club structures.  While the mayor wants to have a deal done, he is, at least at the moment, unwilling to step in and make the deal happen.  It seems unlikely that he will.  I’ve noted in the past his political differences with the Ricketts family.  I can’t imagine that he is enthusiastic about jumping up to help.  Looking for alternatives to Wrigley Field solves the problem.  Either the city realized it has a gold mine with the potential to bring even more money and even more jobs to the existing location, or the Cubs get a modern ballpark without the headaches of the Chicago political fist-pounding.

The new location could still house some of the Northwestern University sports that have been discussed, and could be a modern magnet for concerts and other revenue streams that are limited by the current location.  The Cubs would also get the value of a normal slate of night games, which would increase the value of their upcoming television contract, which is another source of revenue.  The sale of Wrigley Field to the state, to a private investor who thinks it’ll be cool to own a team-less 100+ year old symbol of baseball history, to whoever offers the most, would be a nice chunk of funding to drop into the construction of a new park.  The only downside to a new ballpark is that it will not be Wrigley.  As I have noted in the past, if Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, and others can be replaced, so can Wrigley.

My first preference is for the Cubs to remain in Wrigley, of course.  At this point, though, all of us, as Cubs fans should warm up to the idea of watching a competitive team at “SOLD NAMING RIGHTS” Park in, say…Schaumberg…or Naperville.  They would still be the Chicago Cubs, after all…but without the grief and political thuggery that go with the actual city.



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