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Chicago Council member says Cubs threat a mistake

Published May 3, 2013 9:23 am

MLB • Cubs chairman threatens to move team from Wrigley Field.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Chicago • The Chicago City Council member whose ward includes Wrigley Field doubts Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is seriously considering moving the team.

Ricketts threatened for the first time this week to do just that if he doesn't get his way in tough negotiations with the city and the alderman over plans to renovate the iconic 99-year-old ballpark.

But Alderman Tom Tunney said he thinks Ricketts was just speaking out of frustration.

"Sometimes, things get said out of context. ... He made a mistake," Tunney told the Chicago Sun-Times. "There's a lot of frustration over the whole process. He hasn't worked with the city of Chicago before and I know he's frustrated. We're all frustrated."

Tunney added that he and the neighborhood he represents still are expecting the Cubs to compromise.

"The idea of saying, 'All or nothing' — that just isn't good negotiating," he told the newspaper.

The most contentious part of Ricketts' proposal calls for a 6,000-square-foot video screen over left field. He says he needs the ad revenue it would generate to help finance the $500 million renovation plan without a public subsidy.

The owners of private rooftop clubs surrounding the ballpark worry the massive sign would obstruct their views into the stadium. They say their revenue-sharing agreement with the Cubs prohibits any changes to the stadium that would block the views from their rooftop bleachers. Legal action is a possibility.

Ricketts said Wednesday that without the video screen the team could leave.

"The fact is that if we don't have the ability to generate revenue in our own outfield, we'll have to take a look at moving — no question," Ricketts told reporters after a speech outlining the renovation plans to Chicago business leaders.

Tunney said he's waiting for hear from his constituents before seeking specific concessions from the Cubs.

"We're gonna try ... to assist the rooftops in every which way we can in terms of the placement and the ultimate size" of the video screen, he said.