LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The baseball operations department dreams about the day when the Cubs are major players at the winter meetings. The business side is supposed to fuel the engine with a renovated Wrigley Field and new television deals.
The Cubs are looking for a green light to the $500 million Wrigleyville project at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, which will review items like flexibility for night-game scheduling, the stadium’s footprint and the Clark Street “branding arch.” But the rooftops – and the threat of litigation – are still wild cards heading into the final-approval phase.
Chairman Tom Ricketts – who stopped by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort on Tuesday for a dinner with the minor-league affiliates – was asked if the Cubs have moved toward a resolution with the rooftop lobby.
“There’s been a lot of different ideas thrown out, but I’m not sure where we’re at in terms of (being) closer or farther,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot of conversations, but nothing definitive.”
Until Ricketts receives the assurances he wants, the Cubs won’t renovate piece-by-piece and put up a Jumbotron next year: “We’re looking at everything as a package.”
That uncertainty has delayed the groundbreaking that was supposed to begin in October. The Cubs had once hoped to unveil a bigger clubhouse by Opening Day 2014 – with a redesigned dugout and new batting cages part of the first phase of the renovation – but those plans have been readjusted and are still under consideration.
“I’m not certain what all the staging is at this point,” Ricketts said. “Obviously, we have a lot to do. We want to do it as quickly as possible. Those are important things. I’m not sure exactly when everything happens."
This is a quick trip for Ricketts, who plans to leave Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Wednesday and didn’t get the chance to visit every minor-league club last summer. Those regular visits – as well as a genuine interest in player development – have earned him some respect from baseball officials and generated goodwill with the affiliates.
Ricketts gave a vote of confidence for the path Theo Epstein’s front office is taking – “absolutely, they’re doing the right stuff” – and smiled when asked if the Cubs will get anything big done at the winter meetings.
“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Ricketts said. “Who knows? You know those guys. They’re always moving.”
If the business/baseball plans do come together, someday the lobby will be buzzing: The Cubs did what?
“We all feel really good about where we’re going and there’s a lot of momentum,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “When you aren’t a part of the deal flow and you’re not making these really impactful moves (for) next year – I think Theo said it the other day – it is frustrating because you want to be part of that. (But) we do feel really good about where we are and we do think there’s a day in the near future where we’ll be here and be really active.”