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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