A year ago at the Cubs’ Convention, the Ricketts family rolled out a radical renovation plan that would take Wrigley Field from being what many players such as Andrew Cashner call “a dump”, to being one of the most luxurious in the league. From the get-go, the proposed left field scoreboard was the most controversial addition; some saying video screens don’t belong on Wrigley’s hallowed ground; others saying it was just the next logical step in Wrigley’s essential evolution. The plan got approval from the city of Chicago, and it was all set to go ahead until the owners of the rooftops across from Wrigley got wind of the idea. The signs in the outfields would block their view and therefore, their business. They fought and attempted to compromise with the Cubs, but their negotiations went nowhere. For the past six-months, the renovation news cooled down considerably. The project was a lost cause.

Then, on Wednesday morning, a video popped up on the Cubs’ website. It started with Tom Ricketts, the Cubs’ owner, standing at home plate talking about their renovation plans. Then, it shifted into the players’ clubhouse, and he demonstrated how pinch hitters had to warm up on a tee, instead of in a batting cage like every other Major League team because the lack of renovations in Wrigley’s past.

Tom Rickets (right) and one of the greatest mustaches of all time (left) at Wrigley Field.
Tom Rickets (right) and one of the greatest mustaches of all time (left) at Wrigley Field.

Finally, he addressed the elephant in the room, detailing how every other team can profit off of signs in their outfields, but because the rooftops claim they have a right to their view, the Cubs aren’t allowed to. But Ricketts didn’t say, “We’ve reached a deal with the rooftops,” or “We’re giving up,” like so many expected. Instead, he looked into the camera, saying, “It has to end. It has to move forward. I have to put the team and its fans first. So today, we are going forward with our original plan…We cannot delay any longer. The time to build a winner is now.”

When the video ended, you could just imagine Ricketts turning around from home plate, facing the rooftops, and saluting them with two middle fingers held up proudly in the air. Ricketts didn’t just say that the rooftops were wrong. He told them to go to hell. And quite frankly, they should.
For starters, the rooftops independently sell tickets—season tickets too—to Cubs games, stealing an estimated $24 million a year. Only $4 million of that money goes to the Cubs, even though the Cubs are the ones providing all the entertainment and value. Imagine if somebody was living right next to an office of the Ricketts’ family owned-TD Ameritrade. This person listens in on every meeting and gathers all TD Ameritrade’s advice and uses it to make money on the stock exchange, only because they were poaching off of advice that somebody else rightfully  paid for. That isn’t fair. It’s robbery, yet it’s what goes on every day in Wrigleyville.

Still, the rooftops feel that for some unknown reason, they are obligated to their view of ballgames and profiting off of somebody else’s product. The person living next to TD Ameritrade isn’t able to stop Ameritrade from soundproofing the place. Nor are the rooftops able to prevent the Cubs from turning a profit. The city of Chicago agreed when they approved the expansion in the first place: people own their property. Not what’s off of it.

A mock-up of the proposed outfield renovations.
A mock-up of the proposed outfield renovations.

Putting up signs would add an estimated $38 million in revenue for the Cubs, which, for those keeping score at home, is roughly equal to three Buster Poseys. The signs should have been put up long ago, and Ricketts is the first person with the balls to do it. That money is necessary for the future of the franchise, and it’s well within the franchise’s rights to do so. The city of Chicago already approved it, fans have come around, and players are counting down the days until the remodel is complete. When the rooftops file their inevitable lawsuit, the courts will agree too.

What Ricketts showed in that video was exactly what the Cubs have been searching for since long before I was born. They found someone who wants so desperately to win that nothing and nobody can get in their way. In Ricketts’ mind, he is the person that will bring the Cubs to their glory days. He stared those rooftop owners in the eyes and told them they were just a speed bump on the road about to be run over without a second thought. The Cubs are leaving their old and complacent ways in the rearview mirror. For a season meant to be depressing loss after loss after loss, the light at the end of the tunnel is growing and growing, and right now, the hope of Ricketts’ future is blinding, especially for the 11 owners stealing money on the other side of Waveland Ave.

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