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Tom Ricketts Delaying The Inevitable For The Chicago Cubs......

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Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

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Sometimes we just cannot stop the inevitable.  It is human nature that everything cannot last forever and sometimes you just have to let go and accept change.  For instance people who never wanted a cell phone or a pager insisting that their privacy is of the most importance now own the fanciest IPhone available.  Those who hold onto a car they have had for decades because it still runs realize that the day is coming where they must upgrade to a fancier ride with that Sync technology that confuses them.  I have never been able to grasp the concept some have in this city for a certain baseball stadium on the north side of town called Wrigley Field.  
 
Now before you say:

"Well Rock, you used to be a White Sox fan so your view is a little biased."
 
Hear me out.
 
With the recent proposals by the Ricketts family where they want your tax revenue (Cubs fans) to pay for renovations to their purchased property (Wrigley Field), why cannot we all just admit to ourselves that repairing Wrigley Field is only delaying the inevitable? 
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In today's Chicago Tribune, there are rumors that the Ricketts family is working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field basically by meeting their previous tax payments to the city while keeping any additional money for renovations to Wrigley Field and perhaps construction of the long rumored/planned "triangle building."  Of course we all remember the first proposal which was denied by the Illinois Senate this past month which had little to no support outside persons with the last name "Ricketts."  That plan was to use 35 years worth of amusement taxes to finance Wrigley Field improvements while the Ricketts would consider using their own money to build the "triangle building" outside the newly renovated park.  Local businesses and union leaders of course were behind the Ricketts' plan because of the spike in business it would bring to their own constituents, but the idea that the taxpayers should pay to renovate a ballpark in the current economy did not win over many in the city.  
 
However what I do not understand about this entire argument is how can a man buy a property (the Cubs/Wrigley Field) with his own personal funds yet ask others to fix it for him.  This gets back into the old argument of buying a "lemon" of a car.  If you buy a car and it turns out to be a "sold as is" vehicle, you cannot ask your father to pay for a new set of brakes....it is just not an ethical way of thinking.  How is the Ricketts' purchase of Wrigley Field any different?  It may not the old beat up car you saw on the corner, but it is a relic of a baseball stadium.
 
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I think we can all agree that Wrigley Field (even with its landmark status) will not always be the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.  There will be a time where the Chicago Cubs will either have to move or rebuild on the site of Wrigley Field in some sort of fashion.  However what I find interesting is those who feel you cannot take the Cubs out of Wrigley Field.  Why? 

I understand that Wrigley Field does bring an element of "the old ball game" to current day MLB with the ballpark set in a neighborhood rather than a downtown district.  I get the fact that the ivy on the brick walls is only one unique factor that makes playing baseball at Wrigley Field so special.  I am also aware that Wrigley Field is one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Illinois.  The Cubs however are still a major league baseball team, and I think people and fans alike forget that.
 
There is little history that Wrigley Field offers outside longevity when it comes to the Chicago Cubs playing there.  The most historic baseball team ever switched stadiums two seasons ago, why not the Cubs?  Chicago Stadium housed some of the greatest players in NBA and NHL history, yet they moved onto the United Center.  What makes Wrigley Field so special that putting a band-aid on a bleeding wound every couple of years makes it ok to keep playing there?  Are Cubs fans so consumed with the fact that the Cubs have always played there and without Wrigley there are no Cubs?  Or is it the bigger fear that without the Cubs, Wrigleyville will fade away and business in Chicago will suffer greatly?
 
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It is a double edged sword for the Ricketts family to discuss because they want the best for the baseball team they grew up to love in the stadium they want to keep, yet what is best for the franchise could be bigger and better outside the friendly confines.  The Ricketts are the same people who never wanted a cell phone because that would invade privacy or still driving that '86 Escort because it is already paid off. 

What is best for the organization moving forward is not holding onto the past.  If indeed the Ricketts want to start their own tradition, they should start listening to offers from communities around the Chicago-land area to see if there is possibilities outside Wrigleyville.  If indeed the Ricketts cannot afford on their own to do the necessary repair work to a relic of a stadium and are looking to others to do it for them, there is nothing wrong with seeing if a community like Naperville will put up the cash to house the Cubs for generations to come. There is nothing wrong with accepting change when it is in the best interest of your purchased property.   
 
The proposed renovations of Wrigley Field guarantee nothing.  In fact the proposed renovation could indeed simply be a band-aid over a much larger wound which will continue to be so for years to come.  Is that what is best for the Chicago Cubs?  If Tom Ricketts wants to start "Year Two" on the right foot, rather than modifying proposal after proposal to fund patchwork on a landmark he should be coming up with ideas that are best for the Cubs and Cubs fans in "Year Ten" and beyond......
 
It is time to get the cell phone, new car and a new stadium for the Chicago Cubs.
 
-RoCk
 
John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Show and co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
 
You can follow The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at twitter.com/mullyhanley
 
You can follow The Joe O And Rock Show at twitter.com/joeoandrockshow

**CATCH ROCK MAMOLA ON THE NEXT JOE O AND ROCK SHOW SATURDAY JANUARY 1ST, 2011 AT 6PM CST ON 670THESCORE.COM**


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18 Comments

Doc said:

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I 100% agree with you on this Rock...as a Cubs fan, I'm in the minority that would love to see a wrecking ball knock the place down.

I've been pretty vocal about this, myself, and as more and more Cubs fans actually get to see games in the new stadiums that have been built over the last 15 years, I think they are slowly starting to realize how much of a dump Wrigley actually is. I've heard a number of people, who in the past have said they Cubs could never play anywhere but Wrigley, now say that something needs to be done. It's still a minority opinion, but that minority has started to quickly grow now.

To add to this, though, is the fact that I now believe that Wrigley is a significant disadvantage for the Cubs...for the players...and even a substantial renovation still won't really bring it all the way up to par with other new ballparks in baseball. They will still have to compromise in order to get everything the really need to compete at that ballpark.

In the end, unless they were to completely rebuild the main grandstand, the Ricketts family is still going to have to pay a small fortune every season to keep the ballpark from crumbling to pieces even after a renovation.

Well done, Rock!

Rock Mamola said:

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Thanks Doc for the comments and the RT today!

Stylin19 said:

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While I agree Wrigley needs something being a Cubs fan, there is something that is beyond words every time I walk up those old concrete steps and I get that first glimpse of the field. I don't get it when I walk into other parks. I don't know if it is because of Wrigley or because of the Cubs but I would rather see Wrigley repaired then the Cubs moved. I know the tax thing won't work but I think that there is something that can be done to repair and keep Wrigley.
If they move the stadium to Naperville though, I would be happy, I have lived there since I was 6 and now live about 5 minutes from Naperville. It would take a lot out of my commute to the games!

Stylin19 said:

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I know it makes sense to move them, logically, financially, and all that but part of me never wants to watch the Cubs play anywhere except Wrigley. There is no logical reasoning behind that and I know it, but I just have this attachment to that dump and the neighborhood around it.

Rock Mamola said:

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Stylin19,

That's the double edge sword I was talking about. There is no way that the Cubs can play baseball at Wrigley Field forever, so why continue to delay the future of their franchise by figuring out ways to fix an old beat up car.

I'm not saying Ricketts needs to build a new stadium with his own money, but I bet Chicagoans would be more open to using their tax dollars to build something fresh/attractive/new rather than patchwork a relic.

Thanks for the comments

iowagyrl said:

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Same feeling I've gotten in Fenway and Dodger Stadium.

DarkAngel said:

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I've said it before on chicagonow, i'll say it again: build a new stadium in another location! Keep the existing stadium and turn it into a doggie park or something to keep the twentysomethings busy while they are hookup hunting and place the new stadium in an impoverished neighborhood to help create jobs and improve infrastructure

Rock Mamola said:

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Again...

didn't want to make this into Cubs/Sox thing....hence why I prefaced this with the quote.

If they decide to leave Wrigley and keep the building as it.....convert it into something that houses concerts/football games/etc.

Thanks for the comments...

MNjoe said:

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Yes - and the White House, built in 1800, is very outdated - let's tear that down too. And the Capitol Building, ugh, another 1800s leftover. How about that Monadnock Building downtown? Screw history -it's old - tear it down. Rock, you are a moron - if you don't like Wrigley, don't go there - you won't be missed.

Rock Mamola said:

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They don't house 41,000 people in the White House

They don't play baseball in the White House

They don't hang Toyota signs in the White House

Poor example....but thanks!

MNjoe said:

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Actually, I gave several examples and could've come up with lots more. Point is - just because a building/structure is old, it doesn't have to be torn down - it's usually cheaper to renovate and you keep something of great historical value. Should we tear down the 'L' lines because they're old? Ya - I know - we don't play baseball on the 'L'.

JulieDiCaro said:

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If they don't have the money to renovate Wrigley, they don't have the money to build a completely new stadium. Duh.

They can't just use their investors' money to do whatever they want. There are certain restrictions on what they can and can't do that were conditions of the financing.

Rock Mamola said:

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I'm not saying Ricketts should use his own money, but why not listen to offers outside of Wrigleyville. I'm sure communities like Naperville would love to put up the money to bring in a MLB franchise to their community.

If he didn't have the money to stay current with the upkeep of the stadium, he shouldn't have bought the team.

Thanks Julie, hope you had a nice holiday!

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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They could get away with a new Wrigley Field for the main reason you suggest, that the demise of the current one is inevitable, but not if they moved it to Naperville or some other far off suburb that is completely the opposite of Wrigleyville.

FrankS said:

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People came from all over to see Yankee Stadium but that didn't save it from the wrecking ball.

To really fix Wrigley, they need tear down practically the entire ballpark except the bleachers. It doesn't sound like the Rickettses plan on doing that. So you'll still have an obsolete stadium that eats millions of dollars in upkeep costs each year.

I still don't understand why it is such a shrine. The Cubs have never won a World Series while playing there. It is a symbol of mediocrity.

iowagyrl said:

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Sentimentality aside, do you also think the Red Sox should move out to Marblehead or another suburb of Boston?

Joe Hass said:

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A few reasons: it's a very intimate ballpark, with the overhang of the upper deck. Architecturally, it's a classic, with simple lines, especially in the outfield (this was one of the reasons the additional rows of bleachers caused a significant amount of nervousness. The greenness of the interior works well.

All that being said, I'll use the phrase that a Red Sox fan used when I went to Fenway: it may be a craphole, but it's our crap hole. The building is in desperate need of a major renovation. The Cubs have put so much of the value of the team into that facility that Wrigley is, literally, the only thing that separates them from the Phillies (well, that and the pitching). I've believed for the longest time that the only logical option is to pull a 1974-75 Yankees and go play at 35th and the Dan Ryan for a season or even two to *really* do this right.

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