Political fracas stalling Wrigley renovation plans
BY AP Wire Service
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
7/03/12 at 5:36 AM
CHICAGO (AP) - As the baseball season began, Chicago buzzed about plans to upgrade wilting Wrigley Field. Then word spread that the patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs considered bankrolling a $10 million campaign against President Barack Obama, at the same time the team sought his hometown's help with its $300 million renovation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the president's friend and former chief of staff, has since refused to negotiate financing or take phone calls from the Cubs chairman.
Now fans are left wondering if the complicated financial deals and presidential politics mean the team's owners will have to put more money into the stadium, and less into building a winning ballclub.
"He's got $10 million to spend on that nonsense. He should spend $10 million on pitching," longtime fan Pam Paxton said of Joe Ricketts, head of the Cubs-owning Ricketts family, as she waited for Wrigley's bleachers so she could watch the last-place team.
Ricketts, a conservative benefactor and founder of TD Ameritrade, swiftly squelched the proposal for an ad campaign revisiting provocative sermons delivered by Obama's former pastor. Ricketts' children joined him in repudiating its message.
But now the family that three years ago bought the team with the famously loyal fans is learning something about Chicago-style hardball.
"The Ricketts have tried to contact the Mayor but he's said that he does not want to talk with them today, tomorrow or anytime soon," read a statement sent to The Associated Press from the Emanuel's office.
Unable to talk to Emanuel, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has been calling black city aldermen's offices and appearing on a black-oriented radio programs.
He's pleaded for understanding and argued the team should not be blamed for the controversy, saying the attack campaign is "not something that was ever considered by anyone in the Ricketts family," including his father.