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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Kenney: Lou's future could be interesting

By Bruce Levine

Kenney
Cubs president Crane Kenney talked with reporters for 45 minutes on Thursday.
MESA, Ariz. -- The future of the Chicago Cubs on and off the field was a part of a 45-minute discussion with Cubs president Crane Kenney on Thursday morning.

In addressing the complex issue of the new spring training facility for the Cubs in east Mesa, Kenney said a new site should be chosen by the Ricketts family in the next 14 days.

Kenney told ESPNChicago.com that the Cubs are in full support of the Arizona legislature and any method that it believes is proper to raise funds for their $84 million facility as well as others in the Cactus League.

If Arizona chooses to use a ticket tax as part of the state's fundraising, Kenney said the Cubs would have their full support, and the club is willing to pay any tax on their tickets as well.

Kenney said the Cubs will spend between $20-$30 million of their own money developing non-baseball areas around the new complex.

"The plan for our facility can be managed through the Mesa property tax referendum that will happen in November, and the car rental tax," Kenney said. "The ticket tax is not needed for what we're building. But ... [Mesa and the state of Arizona] seem to have our needs well in hand."

Kenney said the A’s and Brewers have renovation needs that will require funding in their near future.

“[The state of Arizona is] talking about what the appropriate long term vision is for the Cactus League,” Kenney said. “This isn’t just about the Cubs. This is about the other teams in the league as well.”

Other points of discussion Kenney talked about, included a new chief financial officer, who already has been chosen but will be named on April 1.

The surface of the Wrigley Field marquee on the outside of the ballpark is in the process of getting an overall facelift some 70 years after an any extensive external work had been done on the famous sign.

Other exterior upgrades include removing some chain link fences around the building, and stripping down some concrete slabs that are part of the exterior as well.

The “Triangle Building” that will be constructed on the Clark St. side of Wrigley, where parking lots now exists, should begin to be constructed after the 2010 season. Kenney said the Ricketts family vision is to have that building, which will house the team’s front office, and will include retail stores, restaurants and a hotel site, renovated by 2014.

The Triangle Buiding and the renovation of Wrigley Field could cost between $200-$300 million, and the hope is that all the construction will be done in time to celebrate the 100 –year anniversary of the original construction of the ballpark. The Cubs originally moved into Wrigley in 1916.

Kenney said the Cubs’ baseball budget should not be impacted by the $200-$300 million renovation plans that ownership has on the board. He also said the issue of baseball operations will be addressed in a proper time frame.

He said the amount of money spent on baseball operations in the future will be directly correlated to the team’s ability to generate new revenue streams.

He said the Cubs are impressed with general mangaer Jim Hendry’s front office.

“I think Jim has a nice team round him,” Kenney said. “Randy [Bush] has been a really great addition, and Greg [Maddux], I’ve already heard stories what it means to have Greg in the house.”

Kenney was asked about Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s tenure with the team.

“Lou’s done a great job,” Kenney said. “If he feels well and he wants to keep going, we’ll have an interesting conversation. I think he’s done a great job … and he’s raised the bar. That’s a little bit of a burden we carry now. But that’s a lot better than being picked fourth or fifth.”