Chicago Cubs

Cubs looking for help with Wrigley renovation

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Cubs looking for help with Wrigley renovation

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
8:10 PM
By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

It's not surprising to see a limo pull up outside Wrigley Field and a bride and groom emerge to have their picture taken in front of the marquee. Such is the pull of the second-oldest ballpark in the majors as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

To preserve what ownership calls the state's third-largest tourist attraction, the Cubs will request that a portion of the amusement taxes added to each ticket be directly invested in a stadium renovation, chairman Tom Ricketts wrote Thursday in a letter to season-ticket holders.

The Chicago Tribune first reported that the plan would have the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority float nearly 300 million in bonds. Within a 35-year window, the bonds would be paid by the 12 percent ticket surcharge assessed by the city and Cook County.

Ricketts estimated that the Cubs and Wrigley Field are annually responsible for a 600 million impact on the local economy, 7,000 jobs and 60 million in tax collections.

If approved, Ricketts wrote, the Cubs will undertake more than 200 million in renovations during the next five years. His family -- after purchasing the team, stadium and a stake in Comcast SportsNet for roughly 845 million almost 13 months ago -- would also make a significant investment in neighborhood development.

The ISFA owns U.S. Cellular Field, but the chairman indicated that the team would continue to play at Wrigley Field during construction. The Cubs will be motivated to stay there because they have drawn at least three-million fans for seven consecutive seasons.

Decisions will be made at a time when the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent and the state could be facing a 15 billion deficit. In the past several months, Cubs executives have shown their political skill in lobbying Mesa, Ariz., and convincing the city to spend close to 100 million for a new spring-training facility.

Now they will turn their attention toward Wrigley Field, which is being converted for next weekend's Northwestern-Illinois football game, another advertisement for the Cubs brand.

The ancient stadium will need significant upgrades if the Cubs are to host an All-Star Game this decade, and there are still visions of developing the multi-purpose "triangle building" on Clark Street.

"The plan is fair, simple and focused. Most importantly, it will not increase taxes you currently pay and will not create any new taxes," Ricketts wrote. "This plan will preserve the historic character and tradition of the Friendly Confines for the next generation and will enhance the Lakeview community."

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

What really happened between Jon Lester and Chris Bosio

What really happened between Jon Lester and Chris Bosio

What really happened between Jon Lester and Chris Bosio?

After Lester's early exit from Thursday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, cameras caught the Cubs southpaw appearing to have a confrontation in the home dugout with Bosio, the team's pitching coach.

CSN's David Kaplan did some investigating and said Friday on his morning radio show on ESPN 1000 that Lester was expressing frustration with the Cubs defense. It was not directed to Bosio.

The Cubs were trailing 8-0 in the second inning when Lester left the game with left lat tightness. The Reds eventually tacked on another run to make it 9-0. It was a frustrating inning — to say the least — for the Cubs, who eventually erased the nine-run deficit but failed to complete the comeback in a 13-10 loss.

Kaplan also said an update on Lester should come some time Friday morning, but he isn't expected to miss a serious amount of time. He will likely land on the disabled list, though.

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

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USA TODAY

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

Javier Baez flicked his bat and watched the ball rocket in the direction of Waveland Avenue, the last of the back-to-back-to-back homers against Cincinnati Reds starter/Cubs trivia answer Scott Feldman.

That quick strike came during a four-homer fourth inning on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, where the offense looked explosive and the pitching looked combustible in a 13-10 loss that left the Milwaukee Brewers one game out of first place, the St. Louis Cardinals right behind them and the Cubs awaiting a diagnosis on Jon Lester’s lat injury.

“I know the talent we got,” Baez said. “When they come to play a team like us, we know they’re going to come play hard and obviously play good baseball. They’re going to come to compete, and that’s what we got to do.”

Whatever happens from here – the Cubs are 2-2 so far during a 13-game stretch against last-place teams – you know Baez will be in the middle of the action as the No. 8 hitter with 19 homers this season and a power source with Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) injured.

This is the starting shortstop until Addison Russell (strained right foot/plantar fasciitis) comes off the disabled list and the unique talent you couldn’t take your eyes off during last year’s playoffs.

“He’s not afraid of anything,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So I don’t care how big or small the game is, he’s going to play the same way. He’s going to do everything pretty much full gorilla all the time.

“Sometimes, he’s going to make a mistake. And that’s OK, because with certain people – with all of us – you got to take the bad with the good. Everybody wants perfection. He’s going to make some mistakes. But most of the time, he’s going to pull off events.”

The night before against the Reds, Baez led off the ninth inning with a line-drive double and scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Last week, Statcast clocked him at 16.11 seconds for his inside-the-park homer off the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Over the weekend, he launched another home-run ball 463 feet against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

There are so many different ways Baez can help the Cubs win a game at a time when they don’t have anywhere close to the same margin for error that they did during last season’s joyride into the playoffs.

“I know we often talk about the strikeouts or the big swings,” Maddon said. “But look at his two-strike numbers. Look at his OPS (.808). Look at the run production in general (his 55 RBI match Kris Bryant). It’s been outstanding. And you combine that with first-rate defense.

“Now he’s going to make some mistakes. I’ve talked about that. That’s going to go away with just experience. As he gets older, plays more often, he’s going to make less of those routine mistakes. And the game’s going to get really clean and sharp.”

Until then, Baez will keep taking huge swings, making spectacular plays and trying to cut down on the errors (10 in 334 innings at shortstop, or one less than Russell through 729 innings), because he knows what he means to this team.  

“Javy’s very important,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “He’s one of our best defensive players, one of our most athletic players on the team.

“Javy’s got a really big swing, but he’s got a great eye and he handles the bat really well. For as big as his swing is, he still manages to make really good contact. I don’t want him to approach the game any other way than he does right now.”