No deal on renovating Cubs' 'best option'
April 8, 2013, 7:15 am
Our goal has always been to stay at Wrigley Field and we worked very hard all weekend long as we try to get a deal done.
—Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts on the process of working toward a stadium-renovation agreement
With the deadline today for getting a deal done with the City of Chicago on a Wrigley Field renovation, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said that the two sides have not reached a deal.
However, Ricketts is willing to "commit to the process," with the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Thomas Tunney as one City Hall source told me this morning.
"Our goal has always been to stay at Wrigley Field and we worked very hard all weekend long as we try to get a deal done," Ricketts told me this morning. "The mayor has been great and so has the alderman. We have agreed to continue our dialogue with the City of Chicago."
Ricketts has had many inside and outside his inner circle telling him to look at other options outside of Wrigley, but he has remained steadfast in his hopes of staying at Wrigley Field for the long term and continued that mantra today.
"We have always considered Wrigley Field the best option for our franchise and we continue to feel that way," he said. "I appreciate the efforts of the mayor and the alderman to work with us, and we have agreed to continue the process that we hope will result in us preserving Wrigley Field for the long haul while also giving our players and fans the amenities that we need to compete and they deserve to have when they attend a game."
A recent Chicago Sun-Times article painted the Cubs as a team handcuffed by high debt due to the structure of the deal when the Ricketts family purchased the franchise in October 2009. Ricketts, however, hotly disputed that assertion today.
"That is not true. We bought the team under terms that were not of our doing. Whoever was going to buy the team was going to have to buy the team under those terms," he explained. "Yes, we have debt that we are paying down. Is it a problem for us running our business? Absolutely not. We are committed to paying for an extensive renovation project and we are also committed to seeing the rebuilding of the franchise on the baseball side so that it ends up in a world championship.
"As for the financial side of things, I want to stress that we did not suggest the financing that put this deal together," he added. "I cannot reveal some of those details because it contains confidential information, but it was what we had to accept to be able to purchase the franchise."
Ricketts also made it clear that he is looking forward to getting a stadium deal done as well as a handful of other projects that will greatly increase the Cubs' revenues. While he wouldn't directly address reports that the Cubs will opt out of their deal with WGN-TV and look for a greatly increased rights fee, it is clear that the Cubs fully expect to take advantage of a the exploding sports rights fee market.
On the topic of struggling closer Carlos Marmol, Ricketts made it clear that if president of baseball operations Theo Epstein decides to eat the remaining several million dollars on Marmol's contract, the decision is Epstein's to make.
"I don't discuss specific players whether it is Carlos or anyone else," Ricketts said. "Theo has complete control of baseball operations and whatever he decides to do with any player that decision is his, not mine."
And on the topic of whether or not he has ever had any second thoughts about buying the team after having to deal with so many different problems from a struggling major league team to a stadium in dire need of a major overhaul?
"It has been a very interesting process getting to this point, and we have learned a lot but at no time have we ever had any regrets about buying this franchise." Ricketts said. "I know that we have the right plan in place and the right guys running the organization, and I know we will win a world championship here."