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.
“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.
“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.”