|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
Rosemont, Ill., Mayor Brad Stephens said he would like to meet with Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts as early as Tuesday morning about moving the franchise to his suburb if the club can't reach an agreement on renovations to Wrigley Field by its self-imposed Monday deadline.
"I understand Tom Ricketts wanting to do all he can to make Wrigley Field work long-term. He should listen to (Chicago) Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel and the City of Chicago and hear what they are proposing," Stephens told Comcast SportsNet Chicago. "However, if the Cubs are unable to reach a deal by Monday I would like to meet with Tom Ricketts as quickly as Tuesday morning.
"They cannot be held hostage by the community. The people in the Wrigleyville area must understand that the Cubs are the economic engine that drives the neighborhood. Wrigleyville doesn't make the Cubs; rather, the Cubs make Wrigleyville. You don't have to be very intelligent to see that."
Stephens has proposed a 25-acre parcel of land in Rosemont near O'Hare International Airport as an option for the Cubs if they can't work out a deal with the City of Chicago.
Emanuel has told the Cubs they must come to an agreement with the Wrigleyville neighborhood and rooftop owners, represented by Alderman Tom Tunney, before he will ease Wrigley Field's landmark status, which prevents some of the renovations to the iconic 99-year-old ballpark.
Emanuel said Thursday he is not concerned about the Cubs moving to the suburbs.
"If they want to go to Rosemont -- they just announced they're going to build a hotel (in Wrigleyville). And if it was a serious thing, they wouldn't be at the table negotiating (with Chicago)," Emanuel told reporters.
Ricketts purchased the McDonald's property across the street from the park for $20 million and plans to build a $200 million hotel complex at the location if the team and the city can come to an agreement.
Ricketts has said the Cubs want to have a deal done by Monday to be able to start the project in October. The proposed $300 million renovation -- which will be funded by the Ricketts family if they are allowed to add new revenue streams such as ballpark signage -- would take place over five years.
The Chicago Tribune reported the Cubs would like to add a 6,000-square-foot video screen in the outfield which would surely block some views of rooftops, whose owners claim such a move would violate the 20-year contract they signed with the team in 2004. Rooftop owners pay 17 percent of their revenue to the Cubs.
Increasing the number of night games -- the Cubs currently play 30 night games a season -- is also part of the Cubs' plan, but they have been met with resistance by a neighborhood group.
The Lake View Citizens' Council, a group that represents 10 neighborhood organizations, opposes more night games and summer concerts at Wrigley Field, citing economic concerns for local businesses. The group contends that 3:05 p.m. Friday starts and Saturday night games will harm businesses because they will lose patrons who stay away from the area on game days.