Tunney: Ricketts made ‘mistake’ threatening to move Cubs
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 2:22PM
Wrigley Field appears after a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers was called due to rain in Chicago, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:26AM
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts “made a mistake” born of “frustration” when he threatened to move his team out of Wrigley Field and Chicago if he doesn’t get the outfield signs he needs to bankroll a $300 million stadium renovation, the local alderman said Thursday.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he doesn’t believe Ricketts is serious, nor will the ultimatum force him or his constituents to give the Cubs carte blanche.
“Sometimes, things get said out of context…He made a mistake. There’s a lot of frustration over the whole process. He hasn’t worked with the city of Chicago before and I know he’s frustrated. We’re all frustrated,” Tunney said.
“It’s all about compromise. We all have to compromise. The idea of saying, `All or nothing’ — that just isn’t good negotiating.”
Tunney scoffed at the notion that Ricketts would actually entertain the notion of leaving 99-year-old Wrigley, the state’s third-largest tourist attraction.
“Chicago is the best market. Our neighborhood is the best neighborhood. Location, location, location,” Tunney said, repeating the real estate agent’s mantra.
“They’ve had a sub-standard team and they’re still filling the stadium. Something’s good about our neighborhood. I think it’s great. And they do, too.”
To bankroll a $300 million stadium renovation without a public subsidy, Ricketts says he needs the millions that would be generated by a 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard in left-field, a 1,000-square-foot sign in right-field and 35,000 square feet of advertising on a 91-foot high hotel and open-air plaza he plans to build outside the stadium.
Ricketts has further demanded: ten additional night games and the flexibility to add up to 11 more if the national television contract or playoffs require it; six 3:05 p.m. starts; three concerts; a Class L property tax break and “no compensation” to Chicago taxpayers — either for air-rights over Clark Street to accommodate a pedestrian bridge or for taking out a lane of parking on Waveland and a sidewalk on Sheffield to extend the right- and left-field walls outward to minimize the impact of outfield signs on rooftop views.
Earlier this week, Ricketts unveiled his architectural renderings to the City Club of Chicago, then played his ultimate trump card when asked what he would do if he doesn’t get the outfield signs he needs to bankroll the project because of a threatened lawsuit by rooftop club owners who share 17 percent of their revenues with the Cubs.
“If it comes to the point that we don’t have the ability to do what we need to do in our outfield, then we’re going to have to consider moving. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
On Thursday, Tunney generally demanded that the Cubs compromise, but said he’s waiting for his constituents to identify their “non-negotiables” before demanding specific concessions.
“We’re gonna try…to assist the rooftops in every which way we can in terms of the placement and the ultimate size” of the jumbotron, he said.
Ricketts has insisted on a 6,000-square-foot Jumbotron that would be triple the size of the iconic centerfield scoreboard.
But, Tunney said, “That has not been agreed upon. We agreed on a video board in left-center and a Toyota-esqe sign in right-field. [But], the details matter to our community. It has effects — not just for the rooftops. It’s changing the character of our neighborhood via advertising. It’s not just the Jumbtron. It’s not just right-field. It’s the whole campus. I’m not ready to sign on to any numbers until I get more feedback from our community. They’ve got to gather support like every other developer.”