Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there’s been no contact between his office and the Chicago Cubs for the past five months, after the two sides disagreed over the political activities of Joe Ricketts.
Ricketts is the family patriarch; the trust he set up owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. After Emanuel went out on a limb to seek city funding for renovations for Wrigley Field, it was revealed that the elder Ricketts was considering putting money into a controversial election campaign seeking to link Barack Obama with controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a way that even repulsed mainstream conservatives like Mitt Romney. In the end, Ricketts decided not to fund the campaign to the tune of $10 million, and despite efforts by Tom Ricketts and the Cubs front office to smooth things with the mayor, their efforts were for naught and Emanuel severed talks with the team.
The issue came up in the context of the appointment of the head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which could end up floating bonds to help pay for Wrigley Field improvements. Gov. Pat Quinn wants to appoint his press secretary, Kelly Kraft, to head the authority; Emanuel questions her qualifications (before working for Quinn, she was a reporter at the local Fox station) and her financial experience (she declared bankruptcy in 2009 after rolling up $102,500 in debt). The ISFA is a major entity: it owns both U.S. Cellular Field and Soldier Field and could be a player in an expansion of United Center as well as Wrigley Field.
With no firm support for city or state money on the project, it appears that the $500-million renovation of Wrigley Field ($300 million on internal and infrastructure improvements, and $200 million for the so-called “triangle building” adjacent to the ballpark) is stalled once again.
One would imagine there’s some way the two sides could get along; Laura Ricketts, one of the Cubs owners, has bundled at least a half million dollars for the Obama campaign (per opensecrets.org), so there’s certainly support for Emanuel’s former boss in the Cubs front office.
RELATED STORIES: Can Bud Selig warm relationship between Cubs, politicians?; Cubs: Following the Fenway Park recipe for renovations; Ricketts family political activity threatens to scuttle Cubs reno plans; WSJ: Tear down Wrigley Field now!; Chicago politics at play: Tunney vs. the Cubs; Cubs reno plan draws harsh criticism from key alderman; Cubs funding request: $500M in Wrigley Field improvements; Emanuel plan for Wrigley renovation: set aside landmark status; Illinois guv: No public money for ballpark renovations; City, Cubs finalizing terms of Wrigley Field renovations; Ricketts: Time to talk Wrigley Field public funding again; Want to buy a chunk of Wrigley Field? Dream on; Gammon rips Wrigley Field, defends Ricketts; Mayor Rahm: No to city aid for Wrigley Field; Poll: Voters oppose public funding of Wrigley Field renovations; State funding of Wrigley Field renovations dies as Assembly adjourns
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