Cubs Wrigley Field Renovation Drama Stranger Than Pulp Fiction

Cubs Wrigley Field Renovation Drama Stranger Than Pulp Fiction

Tom Ricketts says it's time to move forward. At least that's what he said in a video that at least I think wasn't trying to be intentionally silly. Protect the TV!

So that's it, right? The Cubs are finally going to start the Wrigley rehab process, which therefore kicks funds into the rebuilding process. Here we go!

That showed up in the sarcasm font right?

Okay, the truth is I am optimistic, cautiously. But forgive me if I channel Winston Wolfe's classic caveat from Pulp Fiction: "Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."

Just like Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield still had plenty of work to do after the car cleanup scene, the Cubs still have a ways to go before a shovel actually hits the ground. I'm also going to hold off on purchasing that Cubs Max Scherzer shirsey for now.

Even if the Cubs are truly ready to move forward, there will be the small matter of a lawsuits threat from the Rooftop Association. Then the Landmarks Committee needs to sign off on the new proposals come June 5th, which some suspect may be in the bag already, despite all the new developments.

The Rooftoppers were blindsided by this move, according to a source.

The source of mine throughout the negotiations also questioned why the Cubs will ironically now introduce a reduced 3900 square-foot Jumbotron.
Apparently the rightfield segment of the the rooftops had already been satisfied with the current state of negotiations; it really just came down to the leftfield Jumbotron dimensions for a few that held up a resolution.

He says the newly-proposed Jumbotron is one-third of what they were bargaining against, and this edition would've been unanimously approved by everyone.

Like I reported multiple times earlier, Fran Spielman says Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, tried desperately to forge a deal with the Cubs and rooftop club owners who share 17 percent of their revenues with the team.

"At one point in time, everybody thought we were there. And it turned out we were wrong. There’s so many individuals and disparate interests, it just became apparent it wasn’t gonna move any further,” O’Connor said.

Now the Cubs will ask for even more signage and a digital scoreboard in right field that will block even more rooftops views. Is this simply a negotiation to back the rooftoppers into a corner or a settlement?

O’Connor said, “My impression is, this is a very real proposal. They made an effort to try and resolve this for the short term and basically have been unsuccessful. I would think if it conforms to the landmark ordinance, they have a right to it — and my impression is, it conforms. There’s a very good possibility” it will be approved.

Either way, it doesn't seem this move by Ricketts should have taken so long or even come to this at all. Some around baseball wonder how the Cubs business side has allowed a couple of "bar owners" to stall such crucial progress on or off the field.  As much as the front office is respected league-wide, the business side usually raises eyebrows.

I've been posing questions recently about whether the Cubs needed to bring in a new face of the biz side to get some of these stalled developments moving forward. One couldn't imagine this dragged out fiasco or numerous PR missteps under a John McDonnough like figure.

I'm glad Ricketts has finally decided to force the issue here. I'm hoping this is a turning point for the orginazation. Yet, this is the Cubs here, and this is Chicago politics we are talking about.

So excuse me if the words of Harvey Keitel are taking up more room in my head than the thought of spending all the Cubs new resource funds.


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  • To somebody's chagrin, you have about nailed it. Of course, you are not inside the boardroom, but now apparently no one else supposedly "in the know" is, as a caller last night asked "Why does Bruce Levine say there is no out for 17 years and Dan Bernstein says that the contract says the park can be modified after the 8th year?" to which the response was "maybe they have different sources." However, that seems to admit that most of the press has not seen the contract, but if it goes to a lawsuit, it will be publicly disclosed, because it has to be attached to the complaint (certainly the case if in state court). Ask A Roid's lawyers.

    There has been too much inconsistency between Ricketts putting out there last year that he wasn't going to go ahead until he got an agreement, and yesterday that not only was he going ahead, but that he was going back to the original plans. From what you indicate, maybe he isn't, and maybe he has agreements with 90% of the necessary parties. There still is the question whether Tunney will be effectively up anyone's butt, or Laura Ricketts will slate a new aldermanic candidate with da current Mare's backing.

    But as you further point out, a better PR effort wouldn't have reflected this back and forth. It looks to me that while they finally got Crane Kennedy out of baseball operations, they have to get new people for the PR and Marketing Departments. Pretty much this year, their marketing has been abysmal, although, again, someone doesn't want to hear that. So, the question still is "why Crane Kenney is still on the payroll?" That is unless Ricketts is only interested in counting a decreasing pile of beans, but one can find an accountant anywhere.

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    Ricketts just comes off as such a cheeseball in this video, but the biggest problem I have with it is that it came so late. What the hell has he been doing for the last couple years? The rooftops will actually fare better when the Cubs are good and the views into the ballpark DO NOT impact their product one bit.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I don't know if the plans affect the view, but I have still maintained that the plan is to drive the rooftops out of business by licensing the right to view such a crummy product that nobody wants to go up there. From wide-pan TV views, looks like it is working.

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    The plans do impact the view, due to the increased signage in RF. The ironic part, as Tom mentions, is that the RF side was the one that was cool with everything from the start. So had Ricketts simply gone with a smaller video board in LF, this all would've been done prior to this season.

    I'm assuming you're being sarcastic with the whole "bankrupting the rooftops" sentiment, as 17% of 0 is 0, so the Cubs would be cutting off their own nose to spite their face in that situation.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    No, I'm not. I recognize that 17% of 0 is 0, but 100% of everything is everything, and that's what Ricketts wants. If nothing else, it lets him buy them out on the cheap. If it goes to court, the plaintiffs have to prove what their damages are, and maybe a 5% profit margin on what they are collecting now is sure less than 5% profit on what they were collecting in 2008.

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    It's going to take a long time for them to go totally bankrupt though, and I doubt the notion of driving them under is what's beneath this crapfest. It may, however, be a nice consequence. But given the revenue driven by the bars and the still-viable rooftop seating (which is less dependent upon the on-field product), I'm thinking the roofies are fine for quite a while. I would reckon that their price elasticity sets them up nicely for decent revs even when the team tanks. They'll see the requisite bump with a better team, but since people don't go for the game, trying to smoke them out isn't a very sound strategy.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I can't read Ricketts's mind, but can draw rational inferences from what he is doing. If the aim is to be like San Diego or Baltimore and use the rooftops as an analogy to the fake industrial buildings (and such was indicated with respect to the spring training park's layout), he wants to own them.

    The question for the rooftop owners under your scenario then becomes whether they are a better place to purvey beer than numerous other establishments within a couple of blocks.

    Anyway, it doesn't take going totally bankrupt. As Dominick's,. for instance, demonstrates, all it takes is not making the necessary profit margin. I worked for some businesses that closed places because the profit margin wasn't 30%.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Also, as I indicated above, the aim may not be to drive them bankrupt but to minimize the measure of damages when it goes to court, and the measure of damages is "reasonably certain future profits lost as a result of the breach of contract."

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    This is pretty simple for all the folks that try to complicate things;

    Ricketts buys Cubs for near billion dollars.
    He is willing to invest another half billion of his money.
    He tries to work like a good with RTO.
    After full year at table. 17 opinions and no concensus.
    One year delay costs Ricketts tens of mllions.
    Ricketts backs away from table of fools, acts like the Billion Dollar Monster he is and sticks up his middle finger to the RTO and will now squash them like the cockeroachs they are!


  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    Only what took so long?

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:


    If he acted like a corporate monster first, everyone would side with the RTO. Try for a year and now play the corporate bully and everyone is on Ricketts side. Politics SUCK but exists!

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    Another related point: delay works to the advantage of the RTOs. If they can keep kicking that can down the road, they win. Delay is a strategy. Hence: "Why can't we keep talking?"

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:


    Then, why, until a week ago, was he portrayed as being scared you know what about a lawsuit, and said he couldn't proceed if one is threatened, but last week turned 180 degrees on that? Based on the legal principle of "an injunction is available only if legal remedies are inadequate," no way construction could be enjoined, as the only interest the RTOs have in their contract is money. The billionaire should have reserved litigation costs and an eventual settlement IN ADVANCE.

  • Maybe to an extent. I just am not convinced RTO are main issue. Maybe they needed more $. I just wish we had a biz equivalent of Theo.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Which has about been indicated, given such things as that he didn't move on such things as the hotel and clubhouse, which didn't affect the rooftops.

    I don't think it was indicated that Warren Buffett might want in simply because Warren is a great Cubs fan, but that Tom needed Warren's money.

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    In reply to jack:

    You are not going to build a hotel or clubhouses unless the stadium issue is finalized first.

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    That's only if you still intend to play the Rosemont card.

    Thus, your assumption has to be that Ricketts was lying about staying at Wrigley, just as he apparently lied about saying not going forward until he had agreement with all parties concerned.

    The only real unresolved "stadium issue" is how many advertising signs are going to block the view. That does not justify holding up everything else.

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