Found May 15, 2013 on Fox Sports:
PLAYERS: Theo Epstein
TEAMS: Chicago Cubs
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist If the Cubs were half as good at baseball as they are at artist's renderings, the team would have left Wrigley Field behind long before now. But it's the aging ballpark that's propped up the franchise for nearly a century now, not the other way around. Owner Tom Ricketts knows that like he knows his own name, and this, too: Winning the World Series is hard; making money off Wrigley Field is easy. Keep that in mind over the coming months, as Ricketts negotiates final approval for a $500 million (at the moment) renovation project. The team's charm offensive began Monday with the roll-out of WrigleyField.com. ''Yes, I support the restoration of Wrigley Field,'' the online petition on the right-hand side of the page urges, ''because it's a win for the Chicago economy, the Lakeview community, Cubs fans and the team.'' (Not mentioned: And a potentially really big win for the already well-to-do Ricketts family.) The Cubs stunk last year - what's new? - yet Forbes ranked them as the most profitable organization in baseball. They're no better this year, but that hardly matters. Ricketts knows what chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley figured out soon after he gained control of the team and the stadium in 1921: Ballplayers may come and go, but the ballpark wasn't going anywhere. Wrigley decided his money was better spent on the destination than the journey, since even the best teams were bound to lose 60 times a season. And as long as the ballpark was full of beer, sunshine and the opposite sex, the baseball came to matter less and less. In a town that always prided itself on making deals, that was the deal the Cubs finally struck with their fans: You can't beat fun at the old ballpark - so long as you don't waste too much time worrying about what was happening on the field. After his family paid $845 million for the Cubs in 2009, Ricketts vowed to change that. He brought in Theo Epstein, the architect of Boston's short-lived dynasty, to run the front office. Even measured against a century-and-counting of futility, the best thing you can say about his tenure is that the organization is making scant progress. So just in case things don't work out on the baseball side, plowing money into Wrigley turns out to be a very good hedge bet. And to be fair, there's plenty to like in the plan. First, Ricketts is using his own money. Next, fans get better views, wider concourses, more bathrooms, a GIANT digital scoreboard (more on that in a moment), and for those who can afford them, more luxury boxes. Ballplayers get an indoor batting cage, flat-screen TVs in a sleek new locker room, and a real soaking tub in the trainer's room. And the generations of rats who've watched lousy teams come and go get thrown out. Ricketts is proposing to peel back nearly every inch of the place, and rebuild it better, or at least that's what the video said. If he's smart and doesn't skimp on the construction or materials - the proposal includes a 175-room hotel and an office building with retail space and a health club - he'll make his money back in no time. It's a little late in the game to rail against progress, especially since Wrigley is genuinely worn out. There's some comfort to be had, too, in that Epstein and several of his aides now in Chicago were in Boston finessing the overhaul of Fenway Park, no easy feat. Ricketts got beat up early in the process, but he's proving a quick study. He dropped his demand for taxpayer funding, as well as the laughable threat to move the Cubs to the suburbs. But he's standing firm on the digital screen planned to top the left-field bleachers that makes traditionalists queasy - at 6,000 square feet, it's nearly three times larger than the manual scoreboard atop center field - and on swallowing up some sidewalk on several sides of the park to build out the foundation. And he wants it all approved by the Plan Commission, the Landmark Commission and the City Council in time to start construction this offseason. Toward that end, Ricketts is finally making friends in high places, beginning with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But he's going to need every bit of that clout - and likely a high-priced legal team on retainer - to get the owners of the rooftops just beyond the bleachers to cut a deal. They already have one - a contract running another 10 years that guarantees 17 percent of their revenue to the Cubs - and are threatening a lawsuit if the new signage blocks their view. Tellingly, perhaps, they don't appear in the otherwise-thorough artist's renderings on WrigleyField.com. To summarize: Ricketts want tax breaks, a few public sidewalks, as much advertising space as possible, a bigger cut of the commercial action in the neighborhood, and here's the big stretch - for the rooftop owners to learn to live with it, or better yet, simply go away. Considering how many of the people he'll be dealing with are Cubs fans, Ricketts will probably get everything he wants, and then go back to the real business of the ballclub: losing. --- Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Cubs rumors: Carlos Marmol 'not going nowhere'

Considering he's a pending free agent that has reportedly been asking to get out of town, there has been speculation that Carlos Marmol could part ways with the Chicago Cubs in the near future. However, Marmol assured reporters -- including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com -- that he's "not going nowhere." “I’m not going nowhere,” Marmol said. “I’m very happy...

Cubs close to activating Garza

Matt Garza could rejoin the Cubs’ rotation after Thursday’s rehab start with Triple-A Iowa. Garza has been Sidelined due to his lat. Garza lasted just 3 1/3 frames in his last rehab start, but three 66 pitches in the contest Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the righty threw with a lot of “aggressiveness” in his bullpen session on Monday. “We just have to get him built...

The Cubs and the Six Man Rotation

With Matt Garza about a week or two away from coming off the disabled list, and rejoining the Chicago Cubs starting rotation, the talk has been ongoing about who should be bumped when he returns. This is a tough decision because all five men who are currently in the rotation are pitching well. In fact they are exceeding any and all expectations even the most optimistic fan might...

JOT: Minor League Recap 5-14-13

Iowa Cubs 1 @ Reno Aces 11 Barret Loux is just another terrible I-Cubs player. Last night he threw 3.1 innings, gave up 9 hits and 7 runs. He walked 3 and struckout 2. On the season, he’s made 6 starts and thrown 23 innings. If you guessed 37 hits allowed, you were right. He’s given up 21 runs. He’s walked 16 and struckout 22. If he wasn’t allowing nearly 2 baserunners per...

Anthony Rizzo, Former Red Sox Prospect, Agrees to Seven-Year, $41 Million Contract With Cubs

CHICAGO — Slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs agreed Monday to a $41 million, seven-year contract that could be worth up to $68 million over nine seasons. The 23-year-old Rizzo is considered one of the centerpieces of the Cubs’ rebuilding efforts. He is hitting .280 with a .352 on-base percentage. He also has nine home runs and 28 RBIs in his third major...

Cubs’ Matt Garza possible return May 21

Chicago Cubs' starting pitcher Matt Garza continues to show remarkable progress. Garza completed his third rehab outing, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings for the Cubs’ Double-A Tennessee Smokies on May 12. He has now pitched a total of 9.1 innings and allowed only two runs. He has walked four but struck out five. The biggest concern for Garza is getting his pitch...

Minor League Report: May 7-13, 2013

Chicago Cubs - Yes, this is called the “Minor League Report”, but the youth already in the majors is just as important, or often more, than what still lurks in the farm system.  The Cubs extended first baseman Anthony Rizzo six seasons by signing him to a seven year contract that overrode his deal in place for 2013 and includes options that could keep Rizzo under control through...

Snakes Take Two Bites of the Apple at Fitch Park

LHP Anfernee Benitez tossed four inning of no run/no hit ball with eight strikeouts, Sergio Alcantara singled twice, tripled, and scored two runs, and Tyler Linton cracked a two-run double to cap a four run 8th inning rally, as the Diamondbacks outlasted the Cubs 8-6 on Field #4, and Wagner Mateo belted an RBI double to put the D'backs on the board in the top of the 1st, and...

Jeff Samardzija Pitches, Homers His Way to Win Over Rockies

Coming off of his first season as a full time starter, Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was looked upon as the go-to man for the Cubs alongside Edwin Jackson. A lat muscle strain at the beginning of spring training pushed back Matt Garza’s 2013 debut into late-May (as projected), heightening expectations for Samardzija and Jackson to step up and lead the Chicago rotation towards...

Dreamcast 15 – Everything hurts

YAOWA EMAILZ: worldseriesdreaming@gmail.com iTunes Twitterz: @WSDreaming_Cubs @CubicSnarkonia @MRubio52 Guest Stevo-sama Twitter: @yoshiki89 Por favor, send us emails and iTunes reviews. INTROS EMAILZ NO EMAILZ Cubs Rotation post Matt Garza‘s eventual comeback A small preview of who the Cubs should give up at the deadline STEVEO-SAMA Baseball odyssey Changing landscapes Anthony...

Cubs 6, Rockies 3

Jeff Samardzija hit a two-run home run and pitched eight strong innings for his first win since opening day and the Chicago Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 on Wednesday night. David DeJesus led off the first inning with a home run and Anthony Rizzo had two hits for the Cubs, who won back-to-back series for the first time this season. Reid Brignac hit a pinch-hit homer for the...

Cubs 9, Rockies 1

Travis Wood pitched seven scoreless innings and the Chicago Cubs came within two outs of their first shutout since last August in a 9-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. Alfonso Soriano homered for Chicago, which has won three straight for the second time this season. The Cubs' 14 hits were one short of a season high. Josh Rutledge hit a home run off Carlos Marmol...

Cubs 6, Rockies 3 and Dexter Fowler's outs.

Jeff Samardzija had a pretty amazing night last night.Dexter Fowler not so much. Samardzija gave up 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 8 full innings. Probably the best part about that was the 8 innings.Because that was only 108 pitches.The other best part was the 2-run dinger he hit off Jon Garland.What a performance, and Dexter Fowler was there to watch it all. Cubs 6 Rockies 3.

More Wrigley Stuff for an Off Day

First off, our apologies for the blog host acting up, we are looking into upgrading service or potentially transferring service such that these periodic hiccups don’t happen anymore.  Thank you for your patience and your continued support. As we talked about briefly last night on our podcast, the Cubs and the city are moving forward with the renovation planning and the neighbors...
Cubs News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.