Chicago Cubs: Todd Ricketts

Ricketts forum: Wrigley rehab in 4 years?

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO – One of the Saturday highlights of the annual Cubs Convention is the Ricketts Family Forum. It’s where the owners of the Cubs -- this year it was chairman Tom with brother Todd and sister Laura -- answer questions from the fans about their team.

Here are some highlights from the hour-long session:

  • Wrigley Field rehab could take place in four years instead of five.

    This was one newsy nugget the Ricketts dropped on the crowd.

    “The initial plan was a five-year plan,” Tom Ricketts said. “Five consecutive offseasons. We may have found a way to shorten that and make it four. I think we can do it in four if we switch things around.”

    Analysis: It’s unclear what “switches” Ricketts was talking about. Does it mean a less ambitious renovation or simply a more aggressive approach to it? Either way, it can’t be a bad thing to finish it in four years, which would still mean it would be done in the five years since it was announced last convention. That is, if the bulk of it can start next offseason.

  • Debt load not that big of a deal.

    Tom Ricketts, in his purchase of the Cubs, admitted that the family took on a lot of debt. He was quick to point out that every team has some and it isn’t a big deal. And he said the debt isn’t holding the Cubs back.

    “It’s a piece of the puzzle, but it’s not as big a piece of the puzzle as people think,” he said. “The fact is there are other things we’ve had to spend money on. We’ve had decades of under-investment in the park that we’ve had to address. We had one of the smaller front offices in baseball and the smallest baseball organization in baseball. We’ve added 102 new associates (employees) to build out what is now an average-sized organization. So there are a lot of expenses that come in over the last few years.”

    Analysis: There’s probably some truth to what Ricketts is saying. After all, the Cubs are in the hunt for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. His price tag will be huge. But if they wanted to spend on 2-4 free agents they’d be limited and their debt would then become part of the puzzle. It’s not a big deal now because the Cubs aren’t ready to make those kinds of moves anyway.

  • Cubs and WGN-TV could part ways.

    As hopeful as Tom Ricketts tried to sound about WGN-TV continuing to air Cubs games after the contract between the sides expires after next season, he didn’t exactly say it was anywhere near a done deal.

    “We hope there is something that works out between the team and the station,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot of shifting dynamics in television economics that have to be part of the discussion.”

    Unsolicited, brother Todd jumped in on the discussion.

    “WGN-TV is going through a lot of changes itself,” he said. “So it’s a matter of, is the synergy still there?

    Analysis: The bottom line is the notion of kids running home from school to watch Cubs games on WGN television is antiquated. Big business will take over future dealings with television and radio deals. It’s simply doubtful WGN will match the financial and programming needs of the Cubs as they move forward.

  • Family isn't looking for the quick fix.

    Team president Theo Epstein pointed out that the Ricketts family is in it for the long haul and the Ricketts themselves reminded everyone they want sustained success.

    “There is no way to cheat the devil on this,” Laura Ricketts said. “Have to do it the right way ... We’re not shooting for one World Series. We’re not shooting for that one year that 30 years from now we can point back to and say, ‘remember that one year? Remember how great it was?”

    Analysis: It’s the right answer -- for now. Sustained success sometimes means taking a step back to go forward. The situation the Cubs were in when the family bought the team was a precarious one in terms of anything more than a successful year every so often. Besides, there’s no going back on this rebuilding process now. It just better work, or else the family may have to simply try to buy a winner since fans will be fed up even more by then.

  • Mascot Clark will be good in the long run.

    Laura Ricketts was very pleased a young fan asked about Clark. She envisions a renovated Wrigley Field with a family or kid section in which Clark will be very popular.

    “I’m glad you brought up Clark, he’s gotten some bad press,” she said. “He had a very positive response at a school appearance the other day. That’s what he’s for ... Clark is a good example of what we’re trying to do to make the Cubs more accessible to kids.”
  • Ricketts tours spring training facilities

    February, 18, 2011
    PM CT
    Levine By Bruce Levine
    MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs executive Todd Ricketts took a tour of the new Diamondbacks and Rockies state of the art spring training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Friday. He was doing his due diligence in preparing for the Cubs’ new facility, which is due to be ready in either 2013 or ’14.

    “We’re narrowing down the list of architects, who will put their qualifications forward in the next few weeks,” Ricketts said. “We should have an architect chosen sometime soon.

    “We’re also putting together [a request For qualifications] for the contractors that we’re going to send out in the next week to 10 days.”

    Groundbreaking for the Cubs facility is expected sometime later this year.

    “We are hoping to be in the ground by this fall,” Ricketts said. “Then however long it takes.

    "I hate to commit to 2013, but 2014 for sure.”

    Although having the finest complex is something that all baseball teams envision, the Cubs may be more inclined to move on the side of practicality with their new endeavor.

    “I think there’s been a little 'Keep up with the Joneses' mentality,” Ricketts said. “We are less about the glitz and more about the business. We want a facility that could help us win. That’s what we’re looking for.

    “I don’t know if that means having a state of the art hydrotherapy table. But at the end of the day, it’s simple, you get your bodies in shape, you get your players ready to play, and we just need a little space to do that.”

    Ricketts said the ownership group has not gotten into naming right at this point. But he did say down the road that it’s a distinct possibility.

    The new stadium will hold close to 15,000, which is 2,500 more than the capacity at Ho Ho Kam Park.

    Ricketts was asked about this year’s team and the baseball management group led by Jim Hendry.

    “I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” Ricketts said. “There’s a single-mindedness to the team that will benefit us during the season.”

    The Cubs have viewed every spring training facility in the Cactus League.



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