Cubs Plan (Almost) Approved: “Wrigleyville is being turned into Rickettsville”

About five months ago, best viagra medicine following a public subsidies snub by the mayor in January, viagra usa and Tom Ricketts commented publicly on the need for a Wrigley Field renovation.  Making a classic owners argument, medical Ricketts insisted that the team needed more revenue to meet players’ wage demands.\n\n\”I’m…representing the fans in terms of trying to make sure that we get the financial resources of the team to be as large as they can be,” said Ricketts in February.\n\nCSN’s Patrick Mooney pointed out that the Cubs team payroll had decreased from $146 million in 2010 to $125 in 2011.  In 2012 it fell to $88 million.\n\nRicketts blamed the Tribune Co., the previous owners of the ball club, for bloated salary obligations that were “unsustainable” from an operations standpoint, insinuating that the company was operating the Cubs at a loss with cash from other businesses.  Ricketts was intent on running \”a closed system. Every dollar does stay in the baseball organization.\”\n\nAccording to the article, given the Cubs new self-sustaining business model, they were a mid-market payroll team.  Unless the Cubs could generate more revenue, the team was unlikely to have the resources to pay the players who would bring a long-overdue championship to the North Side.\n\nIt’s a compelling narrative, if you’re wont to believe sports team owners.  But in my experience, anything uttered by a sports team owner should be met with great skepticism.  Because I’ve found that, for all their charm and chumminess, sports-team-owner sorts are really sleazy mega-millionaire opportunists.\n\nTom Ricketts assessment of the Cubs financial situation doesn’t add up (pardon the pun).  There is nothing to suggest that the Cubs are in financial distress or earning like a MLB mid-market team.  According to Forbes, the Cubs were the fourth highest earning team last season in terms of revenue and the most profitable team in baseball (measured by “Operating Income”), which begs the question, since the Cubs were fifteenth in the league in total payroll in 2012: Are the Cubs are really putting “every dollar” back into the team as promised?\n\nDespite Ricketts’ claims of a troubling financial outlook, Forbes values the Cubs as one of four teams in baseball worth $1 billion or more.  And it’s a bit incongruent that the Ricketts family would pay $845 million for the Cubs in 2009, a team with player contract obligations at levels that, according to Tom Ricketts in 2013, \”from our standpoint and from the team’s standpoint were just unsustainable.\”\n\nWhat makes more sense is that Ricketts built a narrative that worked best given the state of the ball club, which is a big-market franchise currently rebuilding its product on the field.  Team payroll is down as the team stockpiles young, cheap talent with the hope that many of these players will develop into an assembly of viable major league players and a few All-Stars.  In the future, the ones who pan out will be paid handsomely by the Cubs. And the franchise will invest in pricey free agents to fill the gaps in positions where young players did not develop as anticipated.\n\nIt seems assured that the Cubs have the money to do this, given the new economics of baseball in Chicago, with or without a $500 million renovation that includes hotels, restaurants, LEDs galore, and a jumbotron.  Despite the rhetoric, what Ricketts wants is more money, more property, more businesses, and more political influence.\n\nIt was telling that after the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the construction of a 5,700 square foot sign and video board behind Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers last week, a Cubs spokesman called the vote one that “puts us on the right track to make sure that we can move forward with this restoration of the ballpark.\”\n\nWith a total disregard for irony, the Cubs continue to frame the modern transformation of Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville into a more profitable enterprise for the Ricketts as a “restoration” of the historic park that is best, even necessary, for the success of the team.\n\nAnd this has rallied Cubs fans—insane with World Series lust—to the cause.\n\nAt a Chicago Plan Commission hearing this week, one Lakeview resident voiced concern that \”Wrigleyville is being turned into Rickettsville.\”  However, the legitimate qualms of a few hundred neighborhood residents are no match for the sports team owner who has successfully leveraged “our love for the game”.\n\nIn Chicago Magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful Chicagoans for 2013, Tom Ricketts was rated at a rather pedestrian #45.  White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf was #5 and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz #11.  But the Cubs owner is building a head of steam that makes his becoming a major player in this town seem inevitable.\n\nFollowing the renovation of Wrigley Field, next up for the Cubs is big television money (scroll down to #7 in this Jeff Passan article).  The team’s deal with WGN runs out after 2014, and considering recent pacts like the one the Los Angeles Dodgers made for more than $6 billion, the Cubs are in for a cash windfall (and you’re in for a rise in your cable or satellite bill)—assuming that is, the sports cable bubble doesn’t pop first.\n\nSo it was in the timeless spirit of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” that Lakeview alderman Tom Tunney showed up to speak to the members of the Plan Commission this week.  Thought to be the champion of wealthy rooftop operators, Tunney as recently as last week stated his opposition to the Cubs’ plan.\n\nBut apparently Tunney has seen the tidal wave coming, and instead of boarding up the windows and bracing for impact he’s grabbed a boogie board and is prepared to go with it.  With Ricketts on the up and up, maybe he decided that the Cubs make a better ally than an enemy.  Or maybe more likely, the mayor told him to do it.\n\n“Through months of negotiations and discussions, we now have arrived at the point where I have no objections to this project,” Tunney told the Plan Commission during a slick rhetorical maneuver Neil deMause called \”Retreat entirely and declare victory.\”\n\nWith Tunney and more importantly the mayor on board, the Cubs’ renovation plan will cruise through the city council.  Soon after that, we’ll have Rickettsville.\n\nBring your passion for the Cubs, and your wallet.

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