The issue of the Wrigley Field renovations came up at the Cubs Convention last weekend.
Or I should say, the lack of renovations came up.
“I think you know what the holdup is,’’ said Crane Kenney, the team wonk in charge of annoying people.
Kenney wants you to believe the holdup is the rooftop owners standing firm on an agreement that Kenney himself negotiated. Kenney’s, however, is wrong. The holdup is a Cubs owner who didn’t have a plan to deal with the rooftop owners when he bought the team. Or should I say, when daddy’s money bought the team.
The Wrigley renovations are about two things: distracting fans from another 90 losses and providing revenue streams to be channeled back into the on-field product so the Cubs stop losing another 90 games.
The hood ornament for the renovations is the video board in back of the left-field bleachers. Advertising, replays, advertising, money, money, money to buy pitching, pitching, pitching.
Tom Ricketts wants to spend daddy’s money on renovating Wrigley, and that’s great. But daddy said L'il Tom wasn’t the surest thing to get out of business school, and his inability to make the rooftop owners go away would seem to indicate that.
Kenney said $20 million in bleacher sales has been lost because of the threat of a rooftop lawsuit. Maybe, maybe not. Go ahead and believe a lawyer at your own risk.
Kenney would like you to believe the rooftop owners are stubbornly rebelling. Kenney should know better, but then, he’s a sock puppet. Kenney negotiated the deal that made the rooftop owners the Cubs’ business partners. That was when Tribune Co. was making a mess of things, but no matter. It’s something that any owner who was awake upon buying the team would’ve known.
And would’ve been prepared to be deal with.
Partners need to be dealt with or included in conversations, pick one, Tommy.
Kenney said there’s “a lot of urgency’’ to reach a solution.
Actually, there seems to be a lot of ineptitude. Inertia, anyway.
Kenney contended that the language in the contract doesn’t prevent the Cubs from erecting signs in the outfield in front of rooftop views now that the City Council has erased some landmark gobbledygook instituted by a cranky Mayor Daley.
But yet, the Cubs are afraid of a lawsuit by rooftop owners that would delay things. If you have legal standing, what’s to be afraid of? Weren’t the Cubs the ones who were supposed to be able to bury the itty-bitty rooftop owners in legal fees?
Unless, or course, the Cubs know there’s merit to the lawsuit filed by one of their business partners.
Good lord, who’s in charge here? Who’s advising whom? Why isn’t this done?
Ricketts apparently can’t play hardball any better than the team he pays. He can’t play politics, either, and doesn’t even look like he can hire people who can end this thing.
Theo Epstein must be thinking that he’ll have Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Albert Almora at Wrigley before his fanboy owner has a video board on which to display their names.
This feels so Michael McCaskey, circa 1993, and remember, the Bears didn’t get a stadium deal until mommy sent that son to his room without dessert.
Whoever is in charge of negotiating with the rooftops probably needs to be fired for failing to settle this thing. But remember, Ricketts is a Cubs fan who’s used to setting the bar low. In fact, he sold his dad on buying the Cubs when he explained that they sell every ticket win or lose or lose a lot.
Except they’re not selling every ticket when they lose at a record pace. Ricketts was wrong about that. Just wait till dad asks why the son can’t cut a deal with some of his business partners.
The rooftops are doing what businesses do, which is try to stay in business. They’re doing what business partners do, which is keep their leverage strong. They are outplaying Joe Ricketts’ family.
Tom Ricketts can’t make quick and efficient deals any better than Starlin Castro can pay attention.
No matter what Kenney says, this is the Cubs’ fault. Don’t take your eye off the ball.
Then again, these days taking your eye off the ball will earn you the third spot in the Cubs batting order.