The Chicago Cubs won’t be moving out of Wrigley Field anytime soon despite threats and rumors to the contrary.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on Wednesday told a group at the City Club of Chicago that he was “taking a look at moving” if the city of Chicago and surrounding cities don’t approve his plans for renovating the rapidly aging ballpark.
Ricketts might be throwing around his weight, but his love for Wrigley Field can’t be understated. Ricketts at one point lived in an apartment on Addison, and he met his wife while sitting in the ballpark’s famous bleachers. When he bought the Cubs, Ricketts promised to keep the team’s legacy alive and pass the club through generations of his family.
The biggest opposition to Ricketts’ plans is the addition of a scoreboard and advertising that would be placed in the outfield. Critics worry the sign would take away from the field’s ivy aesthetics.
As has been the case for years, the owners of the rooftop decks that offer views of the playing field are adamantly against any changes that would hurt their businesses. The Wrigleyville Rooftops Associations is big business, which combines for $25 million per year. The owners of Wrigleyville Rooftops and Beyond the Ivy are the most likely to “possibly” be impacted by the advertising move.
In the end, money will ultimately win out. In the 1980s, the Cubs installed lights to help bring in extra revenue. When the franchise needed more money, a Toyota advertisement was placed in left field. Now with massive renovations planned, Ricketts will likely win his argument for advertising.
As a Chicago Cubs fan who has attended numerous games, I can attest to the rapidly declining state of Wrigley Field. While the ambiance is magical, the building is in growing decay.
The Cubs have one of the larget operating incomes in the MLB with $32.1 million; however, Ricketts is using a large portion of that money to service the debt on his purchase of the franchise.
Fixing Wrigley is expected to cost $500 million and includes a nearby hotel and plaza. Ricketts is hoping to finish the project without touching even a single penny of public funds.
The Cubs could earn some of the money for the renovations when the team works out a new contract with superstation WGN at the end of next season. The team is already saving money with payroll cuts. In 2010, the Chicago franchise spent $144.4 million on player contracts, a number that has fallen to $106.8 million this season.
Ultimately, what Chicago Cubs fans want is a team that can snap a 100+ year losing record, and that takes money and the comfort creatures of home, which means a better clubhouse and other vast improvements to Wrigley Field.
Do you think the Chicago Cubs will ever leave Wrigley Field?