Patrick Mooney posted this article late last night with some quotes from Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. Most of the article deals with stuff we’ve addressed over the past year-plus of Theo’s tenure as head honcho, including the Cubs’ budget and the rebuilding project (both literal and figurative).
Theo recognizes the importance of Wrigley Field, which serves as the identity of the Cubs and the Cubs fan base in the absence of consistent winning.
Epstein called Wrigley Field “the epicenter of those connections.” Anyone making back-of-the-envelope calculations about how much money the Cubs are losing by playing there are looking at it the wrong way. Think of how much they make because it’s the place for diehards, tourists, singles, drunks, bachelor parties, corporate schmoozing, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam.
And although he knows how important Wrigley Field is, Theo and the Cubs always have an eye towards the future and the long-term success of the franchise. This quote caught my eye:
“We’re on a relatively short timeline to get things ordered and start that work so we can move into a new clubhouse in 2014,” Epstein said. “Our expectation is that’s going to get done. But there are certain things that need to happen, that should happen, so I expect them to happen. But if for some reason they don’t, then we’re going to have to look at every alternative.
I think this is open to interpretation, especially the bolded part. As you may know by now, the Rosemont folks have been not-so-subtly trying to lure the Ricketts family over to the airport area as an alternative to the politics-as-usual going on in Wrigleyville. It’s led to some interesting Twitter discussions and conspiracy theories alike. Theo could just be talking about what the Cubs will have to do in the absence of an improved clubhouse for the players. Or he could be cleverly alluding to a potential move if the Cubs’ neighbors and city officials don’t care to cooperate.
Theo continues to toe the company line of investing in Wrigley, the neighborhood and trying to generate positive PR:
“I do think that this is just part of the process. It’s politics and there’s money and influence involved, so there’s going to be a rollercoaster. I think when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a true win-win for all parties and we’ll look back at this as just sort of a crazy way to get to a very good place.”
The truth is that the Cubs might not be able to move out of the Wrigleyville neighborhood that easily, given the financial advantages of playing in an iconic stadium. However, the long-term health and survival of the franchise does rest on fixing up the old house and generating new revenue streams. Let’s see what happens in this last week before the de facto deadline.