Chicago Cubs: Ricketts family
At least there weren’t that many witnesses.
The Cubs finished their homestand with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in front of an announced crowd of 26,171. That cemented their worst season of attendance since 1998.
On Thursday, the landmarks commission approved the large video board in left field and another sign in right field, but there are still hurdles to get over.
"At the end of the baseball season and first day of baseball there's roughly 22 weeks," Green said. "Even though we've gotten the approval from the landmarks commission, we still have to go through the planning commission, the zoning committee and full City Council approval. Once that's all said and done, we might be looking at late August or September. We have not selected a video company. We'll probably have to put a [request for information] and [request for proposal]. That takes probably a few months. And then we go through the design process."
Green said the Cubs would have to hire a production crew and productions staff and add cameras and other aspects to ensure the video board would run at its full capabilities. He said the video board was a priority, because many of the assets added in the renovation were to drive revenue and the amount generated from a video board would be significant.
The unanimous vote by the landmarks commission is a good start to the approval process, Green said, and despite having a lot of work to do, the Cubs have some strong momentum. He added that the Ricketts family's decision to pay for the $500 million renovation to Wrigley and the surrounding area itself was likely the turning point in earning the public's support.
While the news from the landmarks commission was positive for the Cubs, not everyone was thrilled with the decision. The rooftop owners, whose views may be affected by the addition of a video board and an outfield sign, still oppose the changes.
"From our position, we went through the expensive step of doing the mock-ups in right field and left field," Green said. "Originally we wanted a half-dozen signs in the outfield. We decided to go with two, the left-field video board and right-field sign. On top of that, last week we decided to shrink the video board and shrink the right-field sign significantly from 1,000 square feet to 650 square feet. We made accommodations all throughout this year, and we believe, with those compromises, these are still viable businesses. Is there some impact? Yes, we acknowledge there is some impact. But all along, we’ve tried to act with the best interest in terms of trying to help our rooftop partners to go forward.
Like most Cubs players we’ve talked to in spring training, Soriano feels a stable franchise with hands-on owners is a good thing.
Soriano was also very happy to have Marlon Byrd in camp. Byrd and Soriano were teammates during the 2006 season. Soriano said that Byrd and former teammate Milton Bradley are both nice guys, but that Byrd doesn’t bring with him the baggage that Bradley did.
- Canada’s 5-3 loss to the United States in Olympic hockey cost native Canadian Ryan Dempster big time. The glib Cub pitcher referred to his losses as “peanut butter sandwiches” in reference to his wagers with teammates. Dempster kidded that he’ll be paying off teammates in those sandwiches for a long time. Needless to say, Dempster was a popular figure among teammates in the clubhouse on Monday.
- Manager Lou Piniella is unsure who will back up Byrd in center field this season. In discussions with the front office and other coaches, Piniella said they’re trying to decide whether to go with an offensive backup or defensive backup. Among the players being considered are Sam Fuld, Brad Snyder and Tyler Colvin. Piniella said he may use Kosuke Fukudome at times in center again in 2010. Fukudome had 105 starts in center field last year for the Cubs. The Japanese outfielder in his third year with the Cubs had difficulty recognizing the slide of the ball in center field last season. Fukudome is an above average right fielder who is more comfortable in this spot.
- The Cubs missed out on signing the versatile Chan Ho Park to a contract on Monday. The veteran pitchers signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the New York Yankees with an opportunity to make another $1.3 million in performance bonus incentives. Due to a locked-in payroll around $142 million, the Cubs were unable to match the offer.
- In his media session on Monday, Piniella said the Cubs would continue to seek a relief pitcher during spring training. The Cubs’ ranks have been weakened due to injuries to right handed pitchers Jeff Gray and Angel Guzman. Both will be anywhere from 10 days to two weeks behind the rest of the bullpen. As reported here ad nauseam, the Cubs will continue to monitor right handed pitcher Luke Gregerson from San Diego and Toronto’s Jason Frasor as part of their spring training must-see list for their scouts.
"Just pretend it's Opening Day," a man with no hat said warmly. "It's always cold on Opening Day."
The hatless man was wearing a long red scarf and a jacket down to his knees and he said over and over again that he just wants the season to start. He's heading to Mesa, Ariz., on Monday, joining snowbirds and spring breakers and Ron Santo, all excited to watch a bunch of millionaires jog and play pepper games.
The man with a hint of a bald spot and no tie was shaking the hands of Cubs fans and undercover ticket brokers who waited in a long line on the Waveland Ave. side of Wrigley Field for the right to pay the Cubs a lot of money to watch a game in the coming months.
The hatless, tieless man was Tom Ricketts, the new owner of the Cubs, the guy who went from being a rich fan to a rich owner without losing an appreciation for the common touches, like the tiny cups of Dunkin' Donuts the family was passing out.
"Owners, they're just like us!"
It’s a very busy time around Clark and Addison as Wrigley Field gets a much-needed face-lift.
A newly renovated home clubhouse is part of the construction going on at the fabled ballpark under the watchful eye of the Ricketts family.
A brand-new players lounge with major-league comfort levels is part of the construction in the area of the clubhouse where the weight room and cardio room once existed. The weight room will be relocated down the hall, where the old umpires locker room once stood. The umps will be sent to what was an old storage area under the first-base box seats, halfway up the visiting team’s clubhouse ramp.
The Cubs also have hired a new nutritionist to help with healthier meals during the 81 home dates. The Cubs play 50 day games in which they serve breakfast, a light lunch and postgame meal. That’s at least a third more than any other team is fed because of the number of day games.
The kitchen area in the clubhouse has been gutted and will have state-of-the-art ovens and refridgeration and seating areas.
The team also is building a mirrored opening on the back end of the right-field wall with the intention of allowing fans outside of the park to watch Cubs players take batting practice under the right-field stands.
The window will be open on Sheffield Ave. as part of a plaza the Cubs are building, which will also access their Sheffield Grill, the restaurant that will be open to the public before and after games. New food at the Grill will include bison beef specialties. That’s correct, it is buffalo, which is raised on the Ricketts’ ranch in Omaha, Neb.
The team also is promising to upgrade other food products.
The team will announce a new marketing campaign that will be introduced next week, focusing on the future while retaining the culture of the past.
As previously reported here, ownership has created a new 80-seat lounge/restaurant in the area where the last six sky boxes were located, going north on the third-base line. The seats will be sold to corporations and people who have been on a waiting list for sky boxes. The area will feature a lounge and food stations. The team is hiring a construction manager to oversee the building of their new triangle building that will cover 400,000 square feet.
The new manager will oversee that construction as well as the construction of the new complex in Mesa, Ariz.
The Cubs hope the triangle building will be up and running by 2014, the 100th anniversary of Wrigley field.
The back of the Cubs’ scoreboard has been refurbished, marking the first time any repairs have been done to the famous board since it was built in 1937.