The Chicago Cubs ownership took the stage on Saturday at the Chicago Cubs convention in a forum with the fans in attendance. Fans were allowed to ask questions to the Cubs ownership group and that allowed chairman Tom Ricketts to touch on a variety of topics.
Among the biggest issues addressed on Saturday was the progress of the Wrigley Field renovation. Ricketts admitted that there were still several things that needed to be resolved before they can break ground on the projected but also hinted that the project could be completed sooner than originally thought.
“The initial plan was a five-year plan,” Tom Ricketts said. “Five consecutive offseasons. We may have found a way to shorten that and make it four. I think we can do it in four if we switch things around.” -Tom Ricketts, ESPN Chicago
It is unclear as to the switches that Ricketts is alluding to but the idea that the project can be completed sooner than originally thought is certainly beneficial to the Cubs. The Wrigley Field renovation project has been a thorn in the Cubs side for recent seasons and will be a sigh of relief when for the entire organization when it is completed. Not to mention, the renovations will bring in increased revenue for the baseball operations.
Speaking of the new avenues for revenue, one avenue that the Cubs would like to open up for revenue is through a new TV deal. All signs point to the Cubs opting out of their TV contract with WGN after the 2014 season and hopefully securing a more lucrative deal like the deals that the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Philadelphia Philles have recently agreed to.
Ricketts indicated on Sunday that there is still ground to make up if the Cubs are going to sign a new deal with WGN.
“We hope there is something that works out between the team and the station,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot of shifting dynamics in television economics that have to be part of the discussion.” -Ricketts, ESPN Chicago
Beyond their contract with WGN, the Cubs are locked into a contract with Comcast Sportsnet through 2020. Though, that won’t preclude the Cubs from signing new TV deal. The Cubs have been in talks with Fox about a potential deal. No word on how far along those talks are.
The eventual new TV deal that the Cubs sign will certainly be very lucrative and provide the baseball operations staff with ammunition that they have not had since the mid-2000s. That being said, no matter where the financials of the baseball operations stand, the Ricketts are looking for sustained success.
Similar to what Theo Epstein said on Friday, Laura Ricketts re-iterated that the family is planning for the Cubs to be consistent contenders as opposed to a one and done team.
“There is no way to cheat the devil on this,” Laura Ricketts said. “Have to do it the right way … We’re not shooting for one World Series. We’re not shooting for that one year that 30 years from now we can point back to and say, ‘remember that one year? Remember how great it was?” -Laura Ricketts, ESPN Chicago
Criticism has certainly grown in recent seasons but the Ricketts are not straying away from their plan. A plan has had road bumps but should begin to pay off once the organization’s top prospects begin to make their way to the Major Leagues. A step that could be taken during the 2014 season.
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