Cubs fans hate the losing.
But if there's one thing they may hate even more right now, it's this never-ending mud-slinging with rooftop owners.
I don't fancy myself a Cubs fan (hold on, I'm not a White Sox "fan," either — just a Chicago native who likes to see the teams he reports on do well). But as a neutral observer in all this, it's time for Tom Ricketts to begin taking the path he's taken pains to previously avoid: Shop around for a new home.
The latest bit of optimism over negotiations wound up taking a huge step backwards this week when the business people along Sheffield and Waveland took offense over the way their intentions were publicly described at last weekend's Cubs Convention. Then they filed the first lawsuit in this fiasco for comments made about them...(get this)...a year ago!
Now I recognize those rooftop owners have every right to stay firm in their stance legally, based on the 20-year agreement signed off on by the Cubs back in 2004, leaving the franchise hamstrung for another decade.
So next, the court dances begin, stretching this thing out longer. And Longer. At this rate, the question is bound to become: which comes first, contention or renovation?
(Disclaimer: I'm not on the baseball "beat" for CSN. What comes next is strictly an opinion (with no vested interest) that I'll park in neutral when the time comes to report on any future developments.)
The time is now for Ricketts to let it be known he's willing to move the team. Check back on that sweet deal Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens first floated past my colleague David Kaplan last March. Let any other suburbs (or city wards) interested in becoming the team's new home know that there will come a point soon he's open to offers.
For the Wrigley Romantics, it's time to set that aside if a replica is built elsewhere — ivy, scoreboard, brick wall and all. For the historians — really, how much history has there been that's been any good over 100 years (before diehards were eventually subjected to yet another disappointment)? The folks I'd hurt for most are the surrounding non-rooftop establishments, innocent bystanders who'll have the most to lose.
But think about it. No more nighttime restrictions. A goat will have never set foot in a new building. Parking lots. And in all likelihood, a plaza of walking-distance bars, restaurants, shops and maybe a museum for some before-and-after enjoyment. Sure, city-dwellers who are regulars at Wrigley will have to drive or take public transportation to a new venue. But suburbanites do the same now.
This will be new for Chicagoans. Soldier Field was rebuilt, but didn't go anywhere. The Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox all simply moved across the street. But if Ricketts wants to get the most out of this Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime he hoped for when he hired them, he has to give them every available resource and revenue stream to complete the job. Soon.
Set a deadline to strike a deal with rooftop owners. Let's say, mid-season. If nothing gets done, start going through the proposals that come, with the option of continuing talks to remain at the corner of Clark and Addison. If nothing's done by season's end, settle on an offer elsewhere. Break ground, spend the following two years saying goodbye to Wrigley while milking everything you can out of the landmark and move into "Wrigley II" for the 2017 season. It would create a two-fold buzz: a new home and a team that should be a contender. That'll ease any melancholy feelings about leaving the old neighborhood.
The posturing, finger-pointing and threats would be over. We'll be better for it so we don't have to listen to it anymore. And the Cubs will be better off, too.