8:19 AM CST, January 22, 2013
Tom Ricketts might not believe it or care, but I’m with him on this one.
Let him run his business like a business, and he won’t ask the city, county or state for a dime to help the Cubs fix up Wrigley Field.
During the Cubs Convention this weekend, Ricketts said he’ll pay for all of the Wrigley renovations if the government wonks lift the silly, onerous and spiteful landmark restrictions. He’s not looking for a handout, he’s looking for a hands-off.
It’s fair and it’s right, unlike the landmark nonsense. Go back to the landmark commission’s decisions --- no, wait, those were Mayor Daley’s decisions. The landmark commission mopes rubber-stamped what Daley wanted, and what Daley wanted, it seemed, was revenge.
That was back when the Tribune Co. owned the Cubs and Wrigley, the way I remember it. That also was when the Tribune Co.’s newspaper was unearthing some of the ongoing corruption in the Daley administration. It was like the courts and jails had to tell Daley’s bobos to take a number. “Now serving Ghost Payroller number . . .’’
So, when the Tribune Co.’s baseball team wanted to change Wrigley to add revenue streams to the Tribune Co.’s legendary ballpark, Daley’s landmark commission tenaciously defended Chicago’s legendary architecture and trough urinals. Or something like that.
However it played out, that’s what Ricketts walked into when his family bought the team and the park. Foolishly, Ricketts didn’t play the “move’’ card, so he really got stuck. If you aren’t going to threaten to move, you lose. Ballgame. Drive home safely.
Ricketts also looked goofy when he first rolled out his Wrigley renovation plan that asked for tax breaks. Even if he might’ve presented a reasonable argument for them, Ricketts played politics so badly that he deserved to get hooted off the stage. Politics is a contact sport in Chicago, kid.
So now, with the city desperately poor, Ricketts has a deal that doesn’t compromise politicians by giving tax breaks to billionaires, starting with Mayor Emanuel. He wants to make improvements, which means construction and creating jobs, and he’ll pay for it himself if the pigs from the city, county and state realize it’s a baseball stadium, not the Art Institute.
I know there will be Lakeview residents who will fight the changes if it means more night games and more concerts. Two words for them: Shut up.
The park needs improving, the area could use some economic stimulus, and property values couldn’t use something good. Doing it their often-stubborn way in this economy hasn’t created the model that every other American city is following.
So, they can shut up and sit down in newly renovated seats and take in some other pretty, shiny improvements. Let the Cubs pony up the cash to generate more revenue. Let them buy and develop better baseball players. Let them make the team a hot ticket again. Who knows, in a couple years maybe those three-flats will start returning to their inflated values.
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