Interesting bit of off-season Cubs news. Seems new Cub owner Tom Ricketts wants to add improvements to Wrigley Field. I have an idea on how to improve the place, and it involves a B-52 and a stick of GPS-guided bombs. Clear out the debris afterward and build a decent ballpark with parking.
Seriously, though, the place was built in 1914 (I know this because the last hot dog I bought there may have dated from that very year) and desperately needs work to provide decent facilities for both the players and the fans. I've toured the park, including the player clubhouses, and I know they've shoehorned in about everything they can into the place.
The Ricketts family have a list of things they want and/or need to do, and the bill comes out to a cool $300 million dollars. They want the State of Illinois to float a bond issue to raise money to do this.
Tom, have you not seen the state's budget? Did you not watch any of the election commercials? We're $15 billion in the hole! Where's the state going to come up with any dough?
Governor Quinn, on the strength of his 9,800 vote 'mandate of the people' (out of the million or so votes cast-that ain't a 'mandate' unless only 10,000 people vote) has already promised tax increases for all of us here, so I think the Rickettses picked precisely the wrong time to ask for a handout.
And why should everyone in Illinois pay for renovations to what is essentially private property, anyway?
Did the Ricketts family not walk through Wrigley Field before they bought the Cubs? Geez, anybody buying a house knows enough to do that. I could've told you all you needed to sink a boatload of money into the place to get it into the 1980s, let alone the 21st century! Maybe you should have negotiated a few hundred mill out of the Tribune when you bought the Cubs to help pay for the work.
And when did sports franchise owners take to going hat in hand to the state governments any time they want a new stadium or upgrade their old one? Well, I know the answer to that-why spend your own money when you can spend someone else's?-but, really, this is getting old. I'm not sure how many times an owner can say 'We'll leave town if you don't give us what we want.' If that team has been bad forever, I'd say 'Don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out.' The old-time owners spent their own money to build their parks.
I hate hearing the owner of any major sports franchise cry 'poor'. Way I see it, if you can't afford a team, get out of the game. And I'll say it here to the Ricketts clan: 'You guys bought a Major League Baseball team that generates a lot of money. Most of you went to college here in Chicago and spent time at Wrigley as students. Didn't you see the park was a dump? You had nearly a billion to invest in this team. If you can't afford the necessary reno's, then sell the team to someone who can.'
Maybe they could-and this might be a dumb idea-actually go to one of big banks in Chicago-there are several-and borrow the money to make the improvements! That's kind of the way all the rest of us have to pay for home improvements, after all. I bet a big bank might even give you a favorable interest rate if you offered them naming rights to the renovated stadium.
The state government, in a fit of sense rarely seen here, is somewhat lukewarm to spend money they don't have for something they won't get much return on. Finally.
One wonders if raising ticket prices isn't the way to go. That way, only the fans have to pay for the big fix, instead of everyone in Illinois. I personally would hate to see ticket prices go up $10 each, but it's my choice to go to the game.
We'll see how this plays out. I suspect not well for Cubs ownership.