Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs Reportedly Having Internal Discussions About Moving

Dan Bernstein leaked the news on Twitter last week “the Cubs frustration with the rooftops’ intransigence is high enough that they are discussing the unavoidable prospect of options elsewhere.” Bernstein’s report on Twitter surfaced two days after Keith Olbermann labeled the Cubs as the worst in sports for mentioning a possible move out of Wrigley Field while the organization is preparing a year-long celebration for the ballpark. The park currently known as Wrigley Field hosted its first game on April 23, 1914. The Cubs played their first game at the corner of Clark and Addison on April 20, 1916.

Dan Bernstein followed up his blurb on Twitter with a full report indicating sources told WSCR “the Cubs are finally having internal conversations about the team moving elsewhere.” Bernstein pointed out the Ricketts family does not want to move the team out of Wrigley and “probably will not.” But the delay with the rooftop club owners has “finally forced” the family “to consider all avenues available.”

The report paints Tom Ricketts as being at his “wit’s end over the construction delays” and he “underestimated the headaches ahead when he purchased the team, and his nature isn’t that of so many other owners in pro sports: pugnacious, competitive deal-makers.” Bernstein added Ricketts “has tried too hard to be a good neighbor and fellow fan, and all it did was put him and his team at a disadvantage.”

Dan Bernstein reported “the most likely outcome of this tiresome standoff is that the Cubs eventually forge ahead with some version of their remodeling plan for the park and the surrounding area.”

The Cubs have allocated a lot of money and time “researching their fan base, projected as far out as 20 years, and they have determined that demographic trends indicate that Clark and Addison is prime position for attracting readily-available discretionary income.”

Bernstein explained the Cubs were previously dealing with three options: Buyout the remainder of the contract with the rooftops, buy the buildings themselves or go to court.

David Kaplan posted several sections of the Cubs’ contract with the rooftop club owners last week. And section 6.6 seems to favor the Cubs. The delay with finding a solution to the issue with the rooftops is impacting the business department from providing funds to the baseball side to not only improve the facilities at Wrigley but add the necessary payroll flexibility building a baseball team requires.

Julian Green recently called the Rosemont-relocation proposal “interesting” and Bernstein added “don’t be surprised to hear news that the team has commissioned feasible studies for various parcels of land, either in the city or the suburbs.”

Reports have suggested the Cubs and Wrigleyville Rooftop Association have continued their discussions, even after the Cubs applied for a sign permit and the rooftops told their attorneys to proceed accordingly. One of Bernstein’s sources described the rooftop owner that is apparently holding up the negotiations as “belligerent and difficult, with strange behavior that interferes with substantive negotiations.”

The Ricketts family will likely have buy more of the buildings (the family currently owns two under a separate LLC not connected to the team) or agree to a financial settlement with the rooftops in order to put this issue behind the team and start restoring and expanding Wrigley Field.

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  • paulcatanese

    Rumor of a move? Hooray. Mr. Ricketts should take a page from Leo Durocher, “nice guys finish last” and just go ahead and move. He just cannot seem to please the rooftops.
    As far as the park, so many changes are about to be made with the physical look that it would not resemble the one that was there for all of these years, so I would not think anything is lost with the 100 year thing. People change, things change, and the majority of fans who even remember what was, will pass along, and the new fan would embrace the move as part of themselves in the now, so to speak. Get it done Mr. Ricketts, and tell the rooftops to take a hike. It’s you’re money, spend it as you see fit.

    • BillyFinT

      The family needs to be smart enough; move a historical franchise to where they are appreciated.

  • Ripsnorter1

    What took them so long? Ricketts must be just a little slow on the uptake….

    • Tony_Hall

      I think he has been doing everything possible to keep the Cubs at Wrigley. Honorable, but time to stop all Wrigley related activities and spend all their time on a new location. Make the rooftops, Tunney and others have to come back and be trying to convince the Cubs to stay at Wrigley and offering deals to make it work.

    • Maverick

      I agree!!! Why did I know that it would take a building purchase, contract buy out, or court and the Cubs didn’t. Tom should have taken care of the rooftop contract the minute he bought the Cubs 5 YEARS AGO. What has Ricketts done so far for the major league club????

  • BosephHeyden

    I really wish this was actually going to amount to anything. But I’m sure it won’t, because Ricketts seems like too nice of a guy to make a move that might hurt people that are trying to hurt his business.

    Hopefully they either make the move or just kill the talks of moving quickly. Because letting talks of moving linger for the season would be par for the course for the Cubs: lots of talk leading to a poor payoff.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Ricketts could hold all the leverage. If Tunney and the owners believe he is serious about moving they will return hat in hand. What a situation?! Unprecedented in sports. The Cubs should be the law in that neighborhood. Everyone and everything there owes their situation to the Cubs. If handled right they could rule with an iron fist, instead of being ruled like a prison punk.

    • Henry

      Boardrider, I agree! Ricketts has always had all of the leverage! He just did not know what to do with it!!!!!!

      • paulcatanese

        I really think that it speaks volumes about Ricketts the man. The one thing I see wrong about him is he is a fan, and being a fan, he probably purchased the Cubs that way.
        He would have been better off if he was an evil one sided business man that only saw profit.
        Now I am not whitewashing Ricketts, I would have preferred that he was the latter and destroyed the opposition from the get -go, but he is not that kind of person, at least from what I have seen from his dealings.
        Being the latter, he would not have bought into the long term development and for that matter not hired Theo and Co.
        Edit for spelling
        I know he does not want to move the franchise to another location, but also feel that he is so much in love with the concept of the history of Wrigley and his time spent there hat he probably not sell or move.
        Somewhere along the line, and it looks like that moment is coming soon, he may just in fact move.
        But I make no mistake that he will do it because it makes sense, but because he is just flat running out of
        patience with the delays caused by the neighbors, plus looking at the facility in Arizona may just make him see just how much a new facility built from scratch can look. Wrigley Field should look that good.

        • Henry

          Paul, well said. I do not have facts to back up this next statement but I believe Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf looked at Ricketts and felt this guy would keep the Cubs from being competitive because he is a fan!. Bud was trying to help his friend Jerry by keeping the Cubs non competitive and allowing Reinsdorf’s White Sox to gather market share in the Chicago area. Neither Selig or Reinsdorf thought Ricketts had it in him to hire someone like Theo.. I know some do not like Theo and Company but no one can argue the fact that they have (i wont say rebuilt) built up our farm system.. Now that Ricketts is frustrated by the process of rebuilding Wrigley he will surprise all of us Cubs fans as well as Bud and Jerry by potentially leaving the city and Wrigley field. If I were Ricketts I would talk to Bud and tell him I am moving out of Wrigley unless I get money from MLB to help fight off the City and the Rooftop Association. I am all for leaving the unfriendly confines but I would be impressed if MLB came up with cash. The leverage has always been with Ricketts and the Cubs!

          • paulcatanese

            I have heard or read both of those statements as well, don’t know how true they are, but no doubt the patience is running thin for Mr. Ricketts.

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