Dear Cubs Fanboy Owner (and you know who you are, Tom Ricketts),
The option to move the team out of Wrigley Field remains open.
You should’ve done this on Day One. You should’ve thanked everyone for coming, explained how thrilled you and daddy’s money are to own the team, and then dropped the hammer --- telling the city and the rooftops and everyone else with clout that you need concessions or you’ll be needing Bekins.
But you didn’t, and then you did something worse. You professed your love for Wrigley and your intention of staying there forever, which is roughly how long it’ll take to get something renovated there.
You’ve bumped along during your fanboy ownership in trying to make progress on the field and in the ballpark and neighborhood. Cut it out. Start acting and sounding like a businessman, not a fanboy owner and especially not like Michael McCaskey.
Yeah, you love Wrigley. A lot of people do. So what? Bill Wirtz loved the Stadium maybe more than everyone else loved that thunderdome, but he wrecked it quicker than his father said no to Bobby Hull and joined with Chairman Reinsdorf to build the United Center.
Sentiment makes you a fanboy owner. Ineptitude in getting the renovations started makes you a fanboy owner. You need to be a businessman owner. Cubs fans need you to be a business owner. Businessmen find leverage and use it. You forfeited it immediately and ever since. But the opportunity to change that by changing venues and cities and even counties is still sitting there for you.
Don’t look at it like you’re playing the bad guy. Look at it like you’re playing the smart guy.
Your franchise and your business partners who own rooftops had a dustup at a negotiating session Wednesday. The rooftops reportedly objected to some signs that blocked more views than originally believed. Things got loud, and then things ended.
You haven’t attacked the Wrigley renovations because you’re afraid of litigation by the rooftop owners. It’s a legitimate concern. You’ve been too lame or cheap to buy off the rooftops. You’ve been too lame to play the leverage game.
But here’s the upside of doing nothing with the City Council’s approval of renovations: Playing the move card remains an option.
Not only haven’t you stuck a shovel in the ground, but you probably haven’t even put a down payment on any tools or materials. You’ve accomplished almost none of the ambitious $500 million plan to renovate Wrigley and create the rest of Rickettsville.
Which means Splitsville remains an option. See how the mayor likes the hole where his ridiculous amusement tax used to be. See how the rooftops like the view of baseball’s most famous ruin, although the quality of play there would improve.
Meet with mayors in the area. Order several environmental surveys. Draw up plans for the new Wrigley the way you already did with the existing stadium.
And be prepared to act on it. And know that fans will follow. I mean, you’re already losing fans because your product stinks. It’s part of the plan, I know, but this stinks even for a franchise built to stink. Your attendance will drop again this season. The suckers aren’t coming to Wrigley just because it’s Wrigley the way you told dad. That’s the big joke.
That’s also a great springboard. Thank Mayor Emanuel for his time, then tell him you’ve decided to move the team because this ongoing garbage isn’t worth the headache and you’ve found a suburban mayor and city partner who can get things done.
If this is part of your long-term plan and you needed the obstinate rooftops and wonky City Hall help to set up your exit strategy, then it has been well-played. Congratulations. But if not, then wake up to what remains a batting practice fastball.
If you build it, they will come. Guaranteed. What’s more, it’s a great business move to dump out of Wrigley as soon as possible and somehow fast-forward construction because it would provide a distraction while Theo Epstein’s on-field product makes people sick. By the way, when does your marketing department schedule Air Sickness Bag Day?
Your team will stink for more years than Epstein or you imagined. You need a diversion. You need a smart move. Unlike your team, you need to jump out in front and act like you belong there.
Signed, Stevie Sunshine, a pleaser, not a teaser