Earlier this week, the Ricketts family went public with plans to finance extensive renovations at Wrigley Field by using up to $300 million in bonds floated by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Unimpressed by the shakedown, Kent Sterling writes, “the honeymoon between fans who already pay the highest ticket prices in baseball for a fifth place product, and the guy who tries to tell them that he™s part of that long suffering club while peeling bills out of their pockets is over.”
Anyone who thought the Ricketts were a cabal of silly boobs with too much money and too few hobbies sold them way short. People with billions in assets didn™t find that money on the side of the road. They know that public money is used quite often for private entertainment enterprises, and that not asking for it is idiotic. It isn™t as idiotic as the state or city to say yes.
Smilin™ Tom Ricketts, the glad-handing fellow who wants us to believe he loves nothing more than sitting in the bleachers with a beer and a heart full of love for his Cubs, is actually quite a bit more than that. He™s a grifter just like the rest who wants someone else to pay for everything, but no one will tell you who if anyone is writing the check.
Did it not occur to Ricketts that Wrigley Field is just a little bit long in the tooth and in need of significant repair? Of course it did, but clamoring for publicly funded upgrades while still trying to find his office would have been unseemly. So he waited until the team withered this season, and then uses the facilities to explain why free agents won™t help the Cubs win.
The people of Illinois should call this slickster™s bluff. Go ahead and try to build a new stadium in Schaumberg or Aurora. My guess is that Ricketts knows that the only thing that keeps the Cubs from being the Pittsburgh Pirates is real estate. If he believes that Cubs fans are paying $55 per for bleacher seats to watch Alfonso Soriano drop fly balls and wave at sliders low and away, Ricketts should test that theory by bolting for the ˜burbs.