There aren’t many MLB ballparks with the rich baseball history and ambiance of Wrigley Field. And while the Chicago Cubs have been rooted in its confines since 1916, owner Tom Ricketts doesn’t seem to think that’s reason enough to keep the team in place.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, Ricketts is threatening to move the team out of Wrigley Field if his demands for a $500 million renovation aren’t met—plans that include a modern 6,000-square-foot scoreboard that could impede the view of the rooftop club owners who don’t have to attend the game for a good look at the action, as SportsCenter tweeted:
Cubs leaving Wrigley? Owner says they'll consider finding a new home if ballpark upgrades aren't approved: es.pn/ZzTSj4.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 1, 2013
According to the report, legal action could be in order if Ricketts’ plans for a new scoreboard are pushed through:
Among those watching developments closely are the owners of 16 rooftop clubs that enjoy bird's-eye views of the stadium and have a revenue-sharing contract with the team. They have threatened to sue the Cubs if their views are blocked.
Beth Murphy, owner of a rooftop club outside the ballpark, said she believes Ricketts is bluffing.
"I don't know where he is going to move," she said. "They come to Wrigley Field because it's an old ballpark, and it's in a neighborhood. Look at this team."
Ricketts’ biggest motivation for renovation is rooted in money. He believes the scoreboard could bring in $20 million per year in advertising revenue, which could be used to finance the full renovation project without needing assistance from taxpayers.
Ricketts feels the need to add to the fan experience at one of MLB's oldest stadiums.
According to the report, his renovation project (which recently gained the support of mayor Rahm Emanuel) would include the additions of a “new clubhouse and upgrades for fans,” as well as an office building, boutique hotel across the street and more night games included on the schedule.
Moving out of Wrigley Field would be a shocking end to the team's long tenure in its confines, but Ricketts apparently has a safety net should he choose to follow through on his plans to leave.
As the Tribune reported, the owner has already been granted permission to buy a 25-acre piece of land in Rosemont on which he could build a replica of the stadium.