Bud Selig talks Ricketts' challenges
CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig voiced his continued support of Tom Ricketts and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' ownership group going forward, but he acknowledged Wednesday that the franchise has some hurdles to clear in the near future.
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Chief among those hurdles is the team's quest to secure public money for renovations on its aging ballpark.
"This is a franchise that we need not only to be really competitive, but economically viable," Selig said. "[Ricketts] has got his work cut out for him, but is he the right guy to do it, you bet."
Selig, who will begin his 20th year as commissioner in October, strongly believes that the Ricketts family is the right group to run the Cubs.
"No question about it," Selig said. "[Tom Ricketts is] young, aggressive, has a great family. People always said to me the Cubs need a family owning this team and they need somebody that we can identify with and he [is that]. Tom Ricketts and his family are off to an excellent start, but they have a lot of work to do. They know that. He and I have discussed all of it. And as great as a franchise as this is, and it is a great franchise, the ballpark is going to need a lot of work. I hope Tom gets all the support from all sectors here."
Selig was referring to an amusement tax relief system that Cubs ownership is hoping to get from the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois to help pay for the ballpark's renovations. The Cubs pay an eight percent amusement tax on each ticket they sell.
Selig admitted that the subject of Ricketts' hunt for a new general manager came up. The Cubs parted ways with Jim Hendry, their GM for nine seasons, last week.
"Tom and I had a lot of conversations, but in that area, I'd like to defer to him," Selig said. "Tom Ricketts and I have a very fond relationship and we do talk about everything. That's as much as I'll say about that."Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.