4/15 Ricketts: If approved, Cubs will win
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts unveiled a $500 million plan for the renovation of Wrigley Field, which includes a video scoreboard in left field as well as significant improvements to the Wrigleyville community. The Cubs and the city of Chicago reached agreement on the proposal, which has been reviewed in community meetings over the past few weeks, and will continue to be discussed. The Cubs must formally submit plan development designs to the city for more public hearings before it is finalized, and that could be completed within the next few weeks.
“If this plan is approved, we will win the World Series for our fans and our city,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts called Monday a “milestone” for the Cubs. The team first revealed its five-year renovation plan at the Cubs Convention in January. No public dollars will be needed to save the 99-year-old ballpark. The Ricketts will pay $300 million to renove Wrigley over five offseasons, and spend another $200 million on a hotel/retail complex at Clark and Addison Streets where the McDonald’s restaurant now exists.
“I always believed, and I still believe, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do what’s right for Wrigley Field, not only economically,” Ricketts said during a news conference on the ballpark’s concourse. “It’s a special place and has a special role in baseball history.”
Besides being home to the Cubs, Wrigley Field also is the third largest tourist attraction in Illinois and provides a huge economic boost to the city of Chicago.
One of the top priorities is to renovate the home clubhouse. Players at other ballparks have access to batting cages during games; the Cubs’ batting cages are under the bleachers and players instead use a batting tee in the clubhouse and hit into a net.
“We don’t want to be telling our players this is a first class organization and give them second-rate facilities,” Ricketts said. “It’s not just how it looks and how it feels but how it works. We’d like to get batting cages built, better training facilities built. The ability to do that will be subject to how quickly the process moves.”
The additional revenue generated from a new video scoreboard, advertising, etc., will be channeled into the baseball operations budget.
“It’s my responsibility to generate as much revenue as I can to give to the guys in the baseball organization so they can put that back on the field to make us more competitive,” Ricketts said. “This is a big step in that direction.”
— Carrie Muskat