By Adam Harris
With support from many union representatives and local community officials today, Cubs’ Chairman Tom Ricketts stood in front of the media to present the Chicago Cubs’ plan to renovate Wrigley Field and its adjacent Triangle Parcel.
Two-hundred million dollars of the $400 million needed for this project will come from a private investment made by the Ricketts family, and they would like the rest to come from a state issued bond which will be paid for via an increase in Cubs’ ticket prices.
“The fact is that tax payers are being asked for nothing,” Ricketts said. “The fact is that dollars that go to support these bonds are paid for by Cubs ticket buyers. The state needs to issue these bonds because we cannot issue these bonds on our own behalf.”
The taxpayers will guarantee payment of the bonds if the Cubs’ ticket sales cannot support that.
“If I am a taxpayer, I know that it is very unlikely that the dollars will ever be needed because we generate our own revenue” Ricketts said. “One thing that is 100 percent for sure is that we have several hundred million dollars of economic development on the front end generating an incredible amount of taxes over a long period of time. I think I’d take that trade all day long.”
Throughout the forty plus minute press conference, Ricketts introduced many union representatives and community officials across the city to come up and voice their thanks and support to the Ricketts family for this project.
This project is estimated to create a little over 1,000 construction jobs and hundreds of more permanent jobs when the project is finished.
“Combined, this public/private partnership would create a significantly larger economic base in Wrigleyville, and higher tax revenue for all levels of government,” Ricketts said. “Importantly, in the near term this proposal creates jobs and significant economic development in the city…These are good jobs and the kinds of job we should be looking for in today’s economy.”
Ricketts was very clear and consistent on one thing throughout the whole press conference.
“To be clear, what we have publicly proposed is a public/private partnership that allows us to reinvest future increases in the amusement taxes that are paid by Cub fans,” Ricketts reiterated. “There is no new tax or tax increase. Simply there is reinvesting of existing taxes going forward.”
This renovation project could potentially give Wrigley Field to host more concerts or sporting events, like this weekend’s Northwestern against Illinois football game, among many other things.
“Amenities like this allow us to attract larger events,” Cubs’ President Crane Kenney told reporters after the press conference. “In fact we have been in contact with the [MLB] Commissioner about getting the All-Star Game here. The All-Star game is a massive undertaking that our facility today probably is not suited for and if we did this [the renovation] it would be suited for it.”
For the fans, the renovations would include an area built on the corner of Waveland and Clark (the Triangle Parcel) where fans can shop, eat, and simply hang out before and after the game. This area would have a retractable roof. Also, there will be more patio dining areas on the upper deck all throughout the grandstand.
For the players, the renovations would include new home and visitor locker rooms, a player friendly hitting area and weight room, and new training rooms.
Where will all these new player amenities go?
“One of the things we know is lacking is our clubhouse. It doesn’t look like that or that [points at a picture of the Yankee's and Twin's clubhouse]. It was the bright idea of some engineers who were helping us solve the space issue. ‘Well we know there is nothing underneath the playing surface so what if excavated a space underneath the playing surface for these things?’”
Essentially the locker rooms and training facilities would be located under the right and left field playing surfaces.
If the number one goal of the Ricketts family is going to be reached: “Win a championship” these things need to happen to accommodate the players.