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Hanley: Don’t Count On Public Funding For Wrigley Field

Photo Of The Wrigley Field Sign. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Photo Of The Wrigley Field Sign. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Brian-Hanley Brian Hanley
I was born in 1960 on the westside of Chicago at the venerable St....
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By Brian Hanley-

(WSCR) Jimmy Shapiro from Bodog was kind enough to send the odds his firm figured for the next Cubs manager.

Ryne Sandberg fans should be very happy since the Hall of Famer is the favorite (2-3).

Cubs nation should be very afraid since Captain Nickname, aka Mike Quade, is close behind (3-2).

And any Cubs pitchers who enjoys imbibing in fried chicken, beer, and video games while at the office should be very hopeful since Terry Francona is at least in the conversation (4-1).

Bodog didn’t put odds on Mayor Rahm Emanuel coming up with the $200 million in public money the Ricketts would like to help fix Wrigley Field.

No need, really. It is the longest of shots.

Jim Hendry has a better chance of getting his old GM job back if there was the ultimate Cubbie Occurrence and the hiring of Theo Epstein blew up over compensation.

Emanuel has to plug a budget deficit of more than $643 million thanks to the decades of fiscal mismanagement and hinky deals Mayor Richard M. Daley delivered.

“I’ve had one meeting, a couple of months ago,” Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune editorial board of helping the Cubs. “As I told (the Cubs), I’m going to represent the taxpayers of the city of Chicago and you have to represent your interests.

“Now that I’ve got the budget done … I am going to sit down with them.”

But he said he has “a jaundiced and critical eye as it relates to anything (asked) of the city for a private owner and a private entity. I will look at it, and I’ll evaluate it.”

The only way the Cubs get a penny in city or county funds is to take a page from the White Sox and Bears play books: Threaten to leave.

Then Gov. Jim Thompson used the Sox threat to head to Tampa to twist legislators’ arms and get the South Siders a sweetheart lease deal even after the midnight deadline passed. After all, as years of corruption has shown, Springfield follows laws only when it’s convenient.

The Bears finally got their hunk of the taxpayers’ pie to rehab Soldier Field only after the McCaskey clan was seen scouting out real estate in Gary, Ind.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told our show he is “not going down that road” when asked on opening day why he hasn’t played the ultimate trump card and threatened to bolt out of Chicago and Cook County.

Even the good will engendered by the hiring of Epstein won’t translate to amusement tax money being returned to the Cubs given the city’s fiscal mess.

Of course, Lolapalooza didn’t pay a red cent of amusement tax money to the city since Daley’s nephew was the hired gun who negotiated the music fest’s contract with Uncle Ritchie. The City that Works, indeed.

Here’s one thing Emanuel may be open to do for the Cubs: Remove the limit of night games the team can play at Wrigley. While that won’t come close to $200 million in help, it will increase the Cubs’ revenues as they swap out early and late season day games. Especially when schools are in session.

Playing many more night games at home would also remove the oft-heard Cubs players complaints about the wear and tear they sustain over the season due to body-clock malfunctions.

If there is any merit in those gripes, greatly reducing day games may also increase the Cubs’ chances of making the playoffs.

Which, by the way, Bodog’s odds-makers have the Cubs at 6-1 against a postseason berth in 2012.

So much for the “amusement” part of the ticket tax.