Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs Will Not Add Nights Games or Additional Signage for 2013 Season

Tom Ricketts met with the media in Mesa after his annual address to the team. Ricketts joked with the reporters that he gave the players a “Knute Rockne” speech and thought he saw some tears in the clubhouse.

Ricketts discussed where the team stood on the Wrigley Field restoration project and announced that the team would not be able to add night games to the schedule for the upcoming season or additional signage in the outfield. The Cubs are looking to add more night games in the future and are discussing that with the city.

Tom Ricketts reiterated that the Cubs would remain at Wrigley throughout the restoration project and there are no plans on the table that would accelerate the pace of the project from five off-seasons to two calendar years.

The Cubs are hoping to receive enough clearance from city ordinance restrictions in the next few weeks in order to stay on track to begin the construction project during the off-season.

Tom Ricketts also addressed the team’s payroll and described payrolls from the final Tribune years as unsustainable in current context. Ricketts explained that all of the money saved on payroll for the big league team goes back into other areas of baseball operations.

Tom Ricketts from Comcast SportsNet:

“The previous payroll model from the Tribune Company ownership was unsustainable in the current context which is why we are working to reach a deal on renovating the ballpark that will allow us to increase our revenue streams for the organization.”

Tom Ricketts discussed the Cubs’ TV rights and said that WGN’s national footprint will be a factor in the upcoming negotiations of local TV rights. The Cubs contract with WGN TV runs through the 2014 season and the Cubs are expected to open the bidding process for those broadcast rights next year. The Cubs contract with Comcast SportsNet runs through the 2019 season.

There will be big money involved in the new TV deal that the Cubs sign. There has been talk about the Cubs starting their own network similar to YES and NESN.

As for the additional night games for the 2013 season, when Ald. Tom Tunney did not introduce legislation during last week’s City Council meeting the writing was on the wall that the Cubs would not be able to add more night games this season. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very firm in the fact he would like to have one comprehensive deal worked out and not just an ordinance to add more night games.

Ricketts also announced that the Cubs will not be able to add signage to the ballpark to increase revenues during the upcoming season.

According to a report from the Tribune, there has been “a lot of progress” with the city over relaxing the ordinances that the Cubs need in order to pay for the restoration project.

Ricketts reiterated on Sunday that “there are a lot of things we have to deal with at Wrigley Field that other teams don’t, whether that’s the signage restrictions, rooftops, other people Cubs’ gear right outside of the park.”

The Cubs figured out a way to pay for the $300 million restoration project and to this point they do not seem to be receiving any cooperation from the neighborhood.

Tom Ricketts from the Tribune:

“If you want to be the best in baseball, you’ve got to have a field that players have the right facilities, that the fans feel comfortable in, and that generates the kinds of revenues other team has.”

Full Report from the Chicago Tribune

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  • cubs1967

    does Ricketts think we as fans are that stupid? a $145M payroll with 3M fans per year paying top 3 ticket prices in baseball not to mention the concession costs, next year an add’l $25M from TV national revenue, 17% from the rooftops, and whatever they get from WGN tv/radio and 25% in comcast is beyond sustainable.
    if it’s not; open the books. which he won’t do.
    absolutely wrigley should of been re-modeled or imploded and re-built 20 yrs ago; but don’t even go there on why you are lowering the payroll. it’s called losing on purpose. and keeping the profits.
    once the old ballyard is re-done; we’ll be expecting 175M payroll for sure. and a championship.
    105 yrs and couting; there are no excuses or grace period.

    • Shawon O’Meter

      I am happy to hear Ricketts say what he did and don’t think he was treating fans as stupid at all. Rather I think he’s finally giving fans who can see the whole picture what they should want.

      Ricketts didn’t just flat say we are cutting payroll an pocketing the money. He said the payroll was unsustainable and they are lowering it to invest in other areas. If you think payroll is the only thing a club needs you must be very bullish on the Dodgers.

      The Cubs are finally paying for a front office the size and quality of winning franchises, they are finally investing in becoming a significant player in Latin America, the are finally upgrading their spring training facilities for a better experience for fans and more ability to get more out of spring training development and they are attempting to dump 300 million into Wrigley for both the fans and to improve the level of coaching and preparation that can go on there. This is called getting us to a well balanced and world class organization and not just over paying for free agents and winter headlines. After 37 years of watching the alternative I’m thrilled to finally see this.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I agree. The city isn’t helping them on renovations at all or budging on any of their ideas to increase their revenue. Where is this magic money supposed to come from?

  • SuzyS

    I was surprised to see Ricketts publicly state that the Tribunes old payroll was unsustainable.
    When you factor in the $ 30 million plus (interest nut) that the Tribune never had AND the Wrigley rebuild/rehab $$$
    that the Tribune SHOULD have done…and I can see where he might feel that way…FOR the SHORT term….but only for a year or two.
    As the Cubs retire their debt , get Wrigley up to snuff…and add the new TV deals a few years down the road…they should be able to rival the Yankees in payroll…if they wished to.

  • paulcatanese

    Not being able to add some night games is a real bummer,on top of not being able to compete on the same level as other teams
    The signage does not bother me as much.
    But it seems that the Cubs are locked into Chicago politics and good luck with that.