BOB:  Lots of stadium news

Cubs ownership seeks $200 million in state aid

The Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, thinks Wrigley Field needs a facelift to the tune of $200 million. To pay for it, the Cubs are asking the state to finance the renovations with some financial sleight of hand with the proceeds from the team’s amusement tax going to pay off the debt. The sleight of hand comes into play because the tax is something that the team is already paying to the state so this is pretty much a poorly disguised subsidy.

It’s early in the process so this is hardly a done deal considering the economic climate. One of the carrots that the Cubs are dangling out there is that if they get the financing, they’d chip in $200 million to redevelop the land around Wrigley Field.

Oakland Athletics stadium update

Athletics Nation sat down and had a chat with Oakland Athletics’ owner Lew Wolff. You don’t have to go to far in the interview before the issue of the Athletics stadium is brought up. Wolff’s response appears to be a frustrated one with good reason because for two years, an MLB committee has been examining the A’s stadium situation with no resolution in sight. Wolff rules out Oakland as an option in the interview and says the committee really hasn’t given him much to date.

Then the interview turns to what’s happening with San Jose and the MLB committee. There’s a lot of good stuff in the interview so be sure to give it a read if you haven’t already.

Camden Yards renovations

There’s a lot of stadium news out there this week. Oriole Park at Camden Yards will turn 20 years old next year and heading into that anniversary, there’s going to be some renovations to the ballpark. Sightlines will be improved and there will be some roomier seats but the casualty is going to be capacity. The ballpark has seated 48,290 in the past but after the renovations, it’ll house 45,971.

The Maryland Stadium Authority is in charge of the renovations. In addition to the facelift, the park is going to undergo some other general maintenance including concrete repair and seat replacements where necessary.

Anheuser-Busch sues MLB

Anheuser-Busch, a long time baseball sponsor, has filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball claiming it went back on a sponsorship agreement that the two parties reached earlier in the year. The new sponsorship deal appeared to have been all but signed, sealed and delivered when Anheuser-Busch became the official beer sponsor of the National Football League. From that point on, things began to fall apart.

The bottom line is, MLB wanted to go back to the table for more money, at least that’s what’s being alleged. Then in early October, MLB said it was going to shop around for a better deal which has now led to the lawsuit. If you’re an attorney for MLB or one of its teams, you must be making some serious dime.

Baseball returns to Australia

I guess in a way, a new Winter League started. For the first time in ten years, Australia has a baseball league and the 40-game season kicked off more than a week ago. The Australian Baseball League has six teams and both Australian natives and foreign players comprise the roster.

It looks like a key to the revival is MLB’s cooperation. The chief executive officer of the league is Peter Wermuth, who’s a former MLB International’s director of business development, and there are several full-time MLB personnel involved in the league.

Yankees looking to patner with Mandalay to buy Triple-A affiliate

This hasn’t been finalized yet but the New York Yankees, in conjunction with minor league conglomerate Mandalay Baseball Properites, have been approved to buy their minor league affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, for $14.6 million. Lackawanna County has approved the sale with a twist. The county will put $40 million towards a new ballpark but this would be in exchange for a 30 year lease.

Neighboring Luzerne County could hold up the sale because they want half of the proceeds. They claim that they put up half of the price to buy the franchise so they’ve filed suit to lay a claim on the what the Yankees and Mandalay are paying for the team.

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Greg Simons
Greg Simons

So the Ricketts want $200 million from the government to renovate Wrigley Field, but they are willing to put up $200 million to spruce up the surrounding area.  Why not just use their own $200 million on the ballpark itself and let the govt. spend its (the people’s) money how it sees fit?


I wonder how many Chicago schools are doing fundraisers to have basic supplies while cutting gym and arts classes while the Ricketts want $200 million for tweaks in a private stadium