Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the board of the Chicago Cubs, promised fans that the long journey to a world championship team will occur on his watch.
In a lengthy letter sent to season-ticket holders, the Cubs' top executive gave an update on the team's entire system, including projects in both the Dominican Republic (building a team complex) and Mesa, Ariz. (a new spring training facility).
Ricketts ended the letter with this promise to the season-ticket holders: "In the end, we (Ricketts and his family) are fans and our goal is to win. We're committed to building a champion the right way. The franchise has imparted on a path that will present challenges along the way but the destination is promising."
The Ricketts family purchased a 95 percent ownership from businessman Sam Zell and the Tribune company in October 2009. (The purchase price was $855 million with Zell retaining 5 percent for tax relief.) Since the acquisition, the Cubs have had a break-even record or better for only four out of 486 games played.
Ricketts admitted Thursday that watching postseason play is difficult with the Cubs still looking light years away from their ultimate goal after a 101-loss season in 2012.
"It would be hard to go to someone else's stadium and watch that," Ricketts said at a dedication for a new high school stadium that Cub Charities and the Kerry and Sarah Wood foundation paid for. "It's tough because the other day I sent out congratulatory texts to some of the owners in the playoffs and it just kills you because you want to be on the other side of that."
The Cubs, according to Ricketts, will put all of their profits and resources back into the development of the franchise and their related ventures. That confirmed a promise Ricketts made on the day he and his family purchased the storied franchise.
The team and the city of Chicago remain at a stalemate on future renovations of Wrigley field. Because of the landmark status of Wrigley Field, the Cubs must receive the approval of the mayor before any structural changes can take place. Although some major headway was made early in 2012 toward a partnership, political differences between the mayor and Joe Ricketts caused an icy logjam in talks.
Offseason plans for the Cubs will include some minor additions and enhancements. The city did OK a 56-seat addition that will feature new rows in front of the current wall behind home plate.
"We have a few smaller projects that we will do this year," Ricketts said. "There is always some cement to be repaired. More maintenance than renovation."