Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

12/1 Cubs brass visit Florida governor

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney were in Tallahassee on Tuesday to meet with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and other state officials. The topic of discussion is the Cubs’ possibly relocating their Spring Training facilities to the Sunshine State and Collier County near Naples. Ricketts and Kenney looked at several sites in September, and were believed to have narrowed the list to three. If the Cubs did re-locate in Florida, the project would primarily be privately funded.

The Cubs have not ruled out staying in Arizona, and looked at some possible locations in early November. Ricketts and Kenney also met with Arizona state officials at a dinner.

— Carrie Muskat


11/18 Mr. Ricketts meets the owners

New Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts will have a chance to meet the other Major League Baseball owners at a dinner Wednesday night. Ricketts, whose family took over the team in October, was not taking part in any of the owners committee meetings at the Chicago O’Hare Hilton. Team president Crane Kenney was at the hotel Wednesday for committee meetings on finance and revenue sharing.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig will address the owners on Thursday.

Kenney did say the Ricketts family will meet with Florida officials after Thanksgiving week as they continue to explore Spring Training options for the Cubs. The Ricketts family looked at several sites in Collier County, and were believed to have narrowed the list to three possible options. The Cubs have the option of buying out their contract in Mesa, Ariz., and moving after 2011.

— Carrie Muskat

11/4 Ricketts to tour Mesa sites

The Ricketts family was to tour Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday by helicopter to look at potential sites along the Loop 202 freeway for the Cubs’ Spring Training home. Last month, new Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was in Collier County, Fla., to do the same, looking at three sites near Naples.

The Cubs want 120 contiguous acres where they can build a 15,000-seat stadium, have at least six practice fields, and upgraded facilities for player development. The team has outgrown its current site in Mesa.

On Tuesday night, Arizona officials delivered their sales pitch to the Ricketts family at a dinner at the Red Mountain Ranch Country Club. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer attended, and the session included a video message from Sen. John McCain, who wished the Cubs a World Series victory, according to the East Valley Tribune.

“Please stay with us,” McCain said.

Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, who is president of the Phoenix Greater Economic Council, also made a presentation.

“We’re really committed to make sure we can address all your issues,” Bidwill said.

The Cubs’ contract with Mesa and HoHoKam Stadium allows the team to buy out of the deal after 2012. The team has practiced in Mesa since the 1950s, and called its current site home since 1979. The Cubs are the top draw in the Cactus League, and a recent survey showed they provide $52 million to the state’s economy.

— Carrie Muskat 

10/30 News & notes from Ricketts session

Tom Ricketts and his family were formally introduced Friday in a news conference at Wrigley Field that was spoiled only by the rain. The Ricketts family paid $845 million to purchase the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Some highlights of the news conference:

* Tom Ricketts will be chairman of the board with his sister Laura and brothers Pete and Todd on the board of directors. Crane Kenney, who was Cubs chairman, now is team president.

* Tom Ricketts said there could be a “slight” increase in team payroll, and suggested there may be “slight” increase in ticket prices.

* Fans can expect changes to the concourse, restrooms and concessions to improve the experience at Wrigley Field. There has been no talk about PSLs (personal seat licenses) or selling the naming rights of the ballpark.

* They are exploring options for Spring Training, and emphasized that they want to have “world class facilities” for the Cubs. The cities of Mesa, Ariz., and Naples, Fla., are competing for the team. “We’re going to get the best facilities,” Tom Ricketts said.

* They want Lou Piniella to remain as Cubs manager. “I haven’t spent a lot of time with Lou personally,” Ricketts said. “We strongly believe he’s one of the best managers in baseball and he’s the right guy to take us to the next level in 2010.”

* They will explore developing the Triangle building on Clark Street, just west of the ballpark, with the hope of upgrading the facilities.

* The Ricketts family’s goal is to win a World Series.

“I’ll be honest, I think we have a team that can do it next year,” Tom Ricketts said. “I’m not going to promise anything; I don’t think that does us any good. The fact is, we have the talent and this team next season can go all the way to finish line. The key is, every season, to be able to stand up in complete honesty and say, ‘We believe we have enough talent to get it done.’ To do that, and be sincere about it and consistent with it, you’re going to get it done.”

— Carrie Muskat


10/30 Welcome Ricketts family


 The marquee at Wrigley Field says, “Welcome” to the Ricketts family, who were introduced at a news conference Friday. The only thing that ruined the day was the rain, and that didn’t dampen their enthusiasm.

— Carrie Muskat

10/25 Cubs look at Naples sites

Could the Cubs move their Spring Training site to Florida? A Naples, Fla., newspaper reports a group was formed four months ago for the purpose of making Collier County the Spring Training home of the Cubs. The Florida group has met with Cubs chairman Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts, whose family is taking over as the team’s owner.

“The Chicago Cubs are exploring Naples, Fla., as a potential Spring Training venue and have been working with Chicago-based Esmark and Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors in that regard,” Kenney confirmed in a statement to the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. “Our site visits and discussions confirm that Collier County has a number of suitable locations for a world-class Spring Training facility.”

Cubs officials toured the area by helicopter to see what locations may be suitable. Craig Bouchard, who is a co-founder of Esmark Inc., said it was clear after their meeting that Ricketts and Kenney’s “objective is to do what is best for Cubs fans. They want to win a World Series. And they want to build the very best organization they can.”

The Cubs are believed to be looking for 120 contiguous acres. The Sports Management Division of Esmark is a principal sponsor of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Bouchards are principal owners of the Naples Tennis Club. Craig Bouchard, is a Cubs fan, and was an official with First National Bank of Chicago. He still has a home in the Chicago area.

The price tag for the venture could exceed $80 million, the newspaper reported. Bouchard said they are pursuing every avenue, public and private, to finance the project and not raise property or sales taxes of the residents of Collier County.

“I committed to Crane that Esmark will invest and take a leadership role in the stadium project,” Bouchard said.

The Cubs’ 25-year lease with the city of Mesa expires in 2016. The team has an escape clause, which allows the Cubs to pay $4.2 million to the city next spring in order to leave Mesa in 2012. Recent studies have shown that the Cubs bring in more than $52 million to Arizona, and more than $30 million to the city of Mesa.

The Cubs have called Mesa their Spring Training home since the 1950s, and permanent home since 1979.

“We are still a long shot,” Bouchard said of Naples as a site for the Cubs, “but I agree with the mayor of Mesa that we are a serious threat. We offer an outstanding destination for families, award-winning beaches and a belief we can put together a proposal that is favored by the Cubs. Sometimes, long shots win.”

Collier County has never had a Spring Training team. The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins play nearby in Fort Myers.

Ricketts was expected to tour four sites in Mesa in November during the Cubs’ organizational meetings.

— Carrie Muskat

10/13 Bankruptcy judge gives Trib go-ahead

The Ricketts family moved one step closer to being handed the keys to Wrigley Field. A U.S. bankruptcy court judge ruled Tuesday that the Tribune Co. and Cubs can proceed with the team’s $845 million sale to the Ricketts family.

“The Ricketts family is pleased that they’ve made another significant step toward taking majority control of the Cubs,” the family said in a statement. “They look forward to getting to work on leading the team to a championship.”

The bankruptcy judge had already cleared Tribune Co. to sell the team and Wrigley Field. The Cubs filed separately for Chapter 11 on Monday to protect the Ricketts so creditors in Tribune Co.’s own bankruptcy case would have no claim against the company.

The Cubs cited assets of $1.42 billion and liabilities of $1.26 billion, but the team’s finances weren’t in question. The bankruptcy filing was done to ensure the team can’t be hit with claims by Tribune creditors because the Cubs weren’t covered when Tribune filed for Chapter 11 last December.

The deal was expected to be completed by the end of October. The sale has been approved by Major League Baseball owners.

Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in December but the Cubs and related assets were left out of the case so it could continue the sale process. On Aug. 21, Tribune Co. reached a deal with the Ricketts family, which would purchase the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Tribune Co. would retain 5 percent.

Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million from the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

The sale price will top the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox and its related properties in 2002.

The Cubs’ bankruptcy filing is not the first for a Major League team. The Baltimore Orioles were sold in a bankruptcy auction in 1993 after owner Eli Jacobs filed for Chapter 11. The same happened to the Seattle Pilots after the 1969 season. The new owners moved the team to Milwaukee and changed the name to the Brewers.

The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL filed for Chapter 11 protection in May.

— Carrie Muskat

10/10 Gila River Cubs?

The Gila River Indian Community is trying to lure the Cubs from Mesa to an area south of Phoenix. According to the East Valley Tribune, the tribe traveled to Chicago to meet with Cubs management. There is a 500-room Sheraton resort and a golf course, plus a 400-acre business park along Interstate 10 near Chandler and Ahwatukee Foothills on the Gila River Indian reservation.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith has tried to discourage other Arizona communities from talking to the Cubs. He says the team’s fans spread money across the Valley, which helps all cities, so everyone should join forces to keep the team in Mesa. According to the Arizona paper, Mesa is marketing several sites near the city’s eastern edge, which would allow the Cubs to build a larger stadium and better practice facilities.

Representatives of the city of Mesa will make one more presentation in November, when Cubs management visits the Arizona city. The delegation is expected to include new owner Tom Ricketts.

How important are the Cubs to Arizona? A study showed the Cactus League would lose $31.1 million and the state would lose $52 million if the team left Mesa. The team has called Mesa home since 1979. Two Florida communities also have expressed interest in the Cubs, including Naples.

— Carrie Muskat

9/16 Could the Cubs move to Naples, FL?

Mesa officials met this week with incoming Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and team officials to discuss possibly building a new stadium and training complex. If the Cubs don’t get their demands, they may move to Florida, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith called the city of Naples, Fla., a “serious threat.”

Smith led the delegation from Mesa to Chicago for meetings Monday and Tuesday. The Mesa contingent concluded the city needs to match Naples’ bid by building a new stadium and training complex.

“This is the marketplace,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “Our competition is very serious. I think it’s a serious threat. We need to match the competition.”

The city of Mesa would like to build a new stadium and training complex near the former General Motors Proving Grounds but would need a private-public partnership to finance a $70 to $80 million facility. The Cubs feel their facility at Fitch Park is antiquated.

How important are the Cubs to Mesa? A recent study shows Cubs fans contribute $31.1 million in direct Cactus League spending, and $52.2 million to the state economy.

Mesa’s 25-year lease with the Cubs expires in 2016, but the team can pay $4.2 million next spring to opt out early and leave in 2012.

“The reality is for us to compete with that offer, we’re going to have to look at building a new facility for the Cubs,” Smith told the East Valley Tribune. “It’s not that the Cubs are demanding things, it’s simply that we’ve got competition.”

It is possible to upgrade the Fitch Park practice facility and HoHoKam Stadium, but a new location is needed to meet future needs. It would include land for restaurants, hotels and shops.

— Carrie Muskat

9/15 Looking ahead

According to reports, Tom Ricketts, Cubs GM Jim Hendry and team chairman Crane Kenney met Monday night with Arizona officials to discuss possible improvements at the team’s Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz. Ricketts, the Cubs’ incoming owner, also has reportedly toured Fenway Park to see how the ballpark handles a video scoreboard. The Cubs have called Mesa their spring home since 1979. HoHoKam Park was remodeled for the 1997 season, but the team wants to update the facilities.

— Carrie Muskat