Cubs offered new home by Boomers

Updated: May 3, 2013, 2:30 AM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

On Wednesday, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said he would consider moving the team out of 99-year-old Wrigley Field if plans for renovations needed to generate revenue to compete were blocked.

On Thursday, an independent league baseball team, the Schaumburg Boomers, who play their home games 25 miles west of Wrigley, offered the Cubs a chance at playing games at their park should those renovations fall through.

We'll propose a fair and honest rent, no question about that, but we have one tenant that's committed to winning a championship in 2013 so the Boomers would get first priority on dates.

-- Boomers president/GM Andy Viano

The only stipulation: The Boomers get first dibs on playing dates and times.

"We did this to have some good-natured fun," said Andy Viano, president and general manager of the Frontier League team. "It's a good way to tell people what we have to offer."

Although the Boomers' park holds only 7,365 fans, the field's dimensions are identical to those at Wrigley.

The team's pitch? Its most expensive ticket is $10.

"That will get you in the front row behind the dugout," Viano said.

A 20-ounce beer and a hot dog cost a combined $7, according to Viano. Plus, the team offers free parking.

Viano said that if the Cubs want, he's willing to grow ivy on the outfield walls, but he can't offer much to replicate the Wrigleyville atmosphere.

"We have the expressway over the right-field wall and a small municipal airport over the left-field wall," he said.

The Boomers open their season in two weeks. The team averaged around 2,500 fans per game last year.

"We'll propose a fair and honest rent, no question about that, but we have one tenant that's committed to winning a championship in 2013 so the Boomers would get first priority on dates," Viano added in a news release. "However, I think a Friday afternoon Cubs matinee would make for the perfect opening act before a Boomers game under the lights with a spectacular, free post-game fireworks show!"

As for the Cubs, proposed renovations estimated to cost $500 million include a new video board, an updated clubhouse for the players and improved facilities for fans.

By far the thorniest issue is the plan for a 6,000-square-foot video screen over left field, as seen in many major league ballparks. The difference is that Wrigley -- the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball behind Fenway Park in Boston -- is surrounded by privately owned clubs with rooftop bleachers whose owners object to any changes that could block their bird's-eye views into the stadium.

The rooftop businesses have been left out of discussions on the proposed upgrade, but they think they should have a seat at the bargaining table because they have a contract in which they share 17 percent of their revenue with the Cubs. Legal action is a possibility.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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