Cubs

Years from now, what will Wrigley look like?

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Years from now, what will Wrigley look like?

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010
Updated 10:22 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Wrigley Field is supposed to feel timeless, though the building cant last forever. There is steel and concrete at Clark and Addison, and sketches and spreadsheets surrounding future projects.

What will Wrigley Field look like by 2014? Approaching its 100th anniversary, no one can really give a definitive answer, but everyone will have opinions.

Chairman Tom Ricketts isnt certain how long the Cubs can continue just patching up Wrigley Field each offseason without a comprehensive plan for renovation. But he also doesnt see that point in the future where it becomes too costly to remain at the stadium.

Ricketts wants to make sure that the ballpark is there for another 50 years. The Cubs dont want you to call it a mall, but here are some of the Triangle Building elements under consideration: hotel; restaurants; concessions; baseball museum; merchandise shop; parking garage; and television studio.

A renovated Wrigley Field would include a new retail and entertainment complex adjacent to the stadium. (Illustrations courtesy of the Cubs.)As outlined Tuesday by team president Crane Kenney, it would include a retractable roof over the space between Wrigley Field and the new facility, which has already spent years on the drawing board.

The development just west of the stadium, shaped by the streets at Clark and Waveland is central to the argument being made by the Ricketts family. The Cubs gathered local labor and business leaders at a news conference Tuesday hoping to frame it.

The Cubs estimate their stadium renovation plan which calls for the state to float 200 million in bonds and the Ricketts family to match 200 million more in private investment around the neighborhood will create 1,000 construction jobs and hundreds more permanent jobs.

Their research firm projects millions more in annual sales tax and property-tax revenues for local government, as well as a 66 million boost each year in regional tourism. Their message is that the economic activity generated by a reinvestment back into Wrigley Field will more than offset the money paid by fans buying Cubs tickets taken from the amusement-tax pool.

The plans unveiling came at a time when the mayor is about to retire (Richard M. Daley) and the governor was just narrowly elected (Pat Quinn) and the state could soon be facing a 15 billion budget deficit.

Ricketts will continue briefing political aides and is open-minded about alternative measures. But he said that the Cubs are not considering personal seat licenses as a way to raise funds.

Ultimately, we have to work with the state to come to some sort of conclusion that works (and guarantees the bonds), Ricketts said. The increasing amusement-tax revenues should support the bonds pretty well. To go to the markets, we might need a state agency to issue them for us, so we have to keep working with the state to come to that final answer.

The citys other professional teams have benefited from government involvement but the concept of committing future revenues at this moment to the Cubs and not schools, hospitals, and police and fire departments has been criticized extensively online and in editorials.

Ricketts who limited his comments to reporters last season but has been on a media tour the past several days will keep trying to change public perception.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority operates U.S. Cellular Field, while the Chicago Park District owns Soldier Field. But the Cubs are using historic Fenway Park with its space limitations and Yawkey Way pedestrian area as a model.

The Cubs estimate that they devote less than half the total square footage to baseball operations (14,515) that other teams use at new stadiums (30,000). Kenney explained that engineers are studying ways to build new clubhouses underneath the field, as well as add battings tunnels and training rooms during a gradual process over several offseasons.

The first year you would dig this out, (put) in a slurry wall (and) cover it back up and play, Kenney said, pointing to an area in left field. The next year you would re-excavate it and youd put a concrete floor and ceiling on it and then cover it up. (As) theyre playing on top of it, youre building out all of this stuff underneath.

The Cubs need to move their administrative offices and storage space and make room for food preparation. There are concepts for rooftop patios throughout the second deck, like the one that currently sits at the front of the building.

Ricketts is a co-founder of Incapital LLC, a securities and investment banking firm that has grown into one of the countrys largest bond underwriterstraders. He said that this wasnt the plan all along as his family explored buying the team and the stadium and a stake in Comcast SportsNet from Tribune Co.

Its a strategy crafted after a first year of ownership spent studying the teams operations. The essential idea is that the bricks-and-ivy views wont change. But once you leave your seat, youll get the modern conveniences found everywhere else. With three million fans a year, the threat of moving isnt credible.

Thats not an option for the Ricketts family at this point, the chairman said. Were staying at Wrigley Field. Were doing everything we can to preserve it.

The proposal to upgrade Wrigley Field and its surroundings calls for wider concourses and rooftop patios throughout the second deck. (Illustrations courtesy of the Cubs.)

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

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USA TODAY

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

This became a three-ring circus on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon screaming at the umpires, the video board showing the replay of Curtis Granderson’s swing and the crowd of 42,195 booing and chanting “BULLS#$!!”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in command of this National League Championship Series, but the Cubs won’t go quietly into the offseason, unleashing All-Star closer Wade Davis for the final two innings of a 3-2 thriller that kept them alive for at least another night.

The Cubs can worry about the daunting task of winning three more elimination games in the morning. Once Davis forced Cody Bellinger into the double-play groundball that left Justin Turner stranded in the on-deck circle and this one ended at 11:16 p.m., he pulled at his right sleeve and buttoned the top of his jersey while waiting for the Cubs to start the high-five line. “Go Cubs Go” blasted from the stadium’s sound  system and fireworks erupted beyond the center-field scoreboard and Davis acted as if nothing had happened.

To put the idea of beating the Dodgers three times in a row in perspective, the Cubs blasted three homers and got a classic big-game performance out of Jake Arrieta and still needed Davis for a heart-stopping, high-wire act.

Maddon already ruled out Davis for Thursday night’s Game 5 after the closer fired 48 pitches – or four more than he did during last week’s seven-out save that eliminated the Washington Nationals. But at least the Cubs will have those decisions to make instead of cleaning out their lockers.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “We’ll definitely come in tomorrow and get some treatment and go out and play catch and see how I feel.”

It looks like Davis doesn’t feel anything on the mound. Davis didn’t react to Turner chucking his bat and yelling into the visiting dugout after crushing a 94-mph fastball for a home run to begin the eighth inning. Davis didn’t seem bothered by Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after drawing a walk. And Davis never lost his composure while Maddon got ejected for the second time in four NLCS games.

Maddon flipped out at home plate umpire Jim Wolf – and really the entire crew – when what was initially called a swinging strike three on Granderson got overturned and ruled a foul tip.

“Wade doesn’t care about any of that,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s the right guy to have on the mound. With the mentality he has, he’s going to strike the guy out on the next pitch. Obviously with the replay, it’s not easy to keep your composure. But he’s just different. He’s a different animal.”

While the fans at Wrigley Field got loud and turned angry, Davis chatted with catcher Willson Contreras: “I was just trying to think of the next pitch I was going to throw if he ended up staying in the box.”

Davis got Granderson (0-for-4, four strikeouts) swinging at strike four, walked Yasmani Grandal and then blew away Chase Utley with a 95.1-mph fastball, needing 34 pitches to finish the eighth inning. Davis wasn’t finished, using a Kris Bryant bat to hit against Dodger lefty Tony Cingrani, fouling off five pitches before striking out looking at a 94.9-mph fastball.

“Yeah, I gave up there after a little bit,” Davis said with a look that sort of resembled a smile. “He was bringing it pretty good, and I hadn’t seen a baseball in a while coming in like that.”

If the Cubs are going to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the only other team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS format expanded to seven games in 1985 – they are going to need the offense to generate more runs, a great start from Jose Quintana on Thursday night and someone else to run out of the bullpen. Not that Davis is ruling himself out for Game 5.

“Go get some sleep and then come in tomorrow and start getting ready,” Davis said.

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

It’s not Jake Arrieta getting greedy and the Cubs being cheap when he holds up another jersey in a different city this winter, smiling for the cameras while super-agent Scott Boras watches the press conference unfold, marketing an ace to a new audience.

Even Arrieta admits that if he had Theo Epstein’s job, he would do the exact same thing, letting it play out until a 30-something pitcher hits the free-agent market. And Epstein wouldn’t have left the Boston Red Sox and taken over baseball operations at Clark and Addison if he didn’t believe in the need for change, to get outside the comfort zone and test yourself.

It’s just business, but this still felt very personal on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Arrieta probably making his last start in a Cubs uniform while the defending World Series champs survived an elimination game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Three straight trips to the National League Championship Series might have spoiled Cubs fans to the point where standing-room-only Game 4 tickets were selling for $60 on StubHub less than an hour before the 8:01 p.m. first pitch.

By 10:13 p.m., the crowd of 42,195 started booing when manager Joe Maddon popped out of the dugout in the seventh inning to take the ball from Arrieta after 111 pitches. It turned into a standing ovation as Arrieta walked off the mound and tipped his cap, his shaved head set against a mountain-man beard.

“Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye,” Arrieta said after a dramatic 3-2 win, surrounded by reporters at his locker. “It’s a thank you, obviously. I still intend to have another start in this ballpark.

“If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there. But we’ve won four in a row plenty of times this year. And there’s no reason we can’t do it again.”

So many times, Arrieta has been worth the price of admission, must-see TV through two no-hitters and those two World Series games he won on the road last year against the Cleveland Indians. None of this would have been possible without the Cubs finding a winning lottery ticket in that Scott Feldman flip deal with the Baltimore Orioles on July 2, 2013.

“I took a little bit of extra time in between pitches,” Arrieta said, “just to look around, foul pole to foul pole, behind home plate, just to relish it and take it in. You got the fans on their feet, pulling on the same side of the rope. It breeds some added energy.

“I had that mindset of I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to tomorrow.”

Arrieta’s pitches dart and dive in directions that even he can’t always control, but he has guts, swing-and-miss stuff (nine strikeouts) and the ability to work through traffic. He gave up five walks, hit Chase Utley with a pitch and watched as Cody Bellinger hammered a ball off the video-board ribbon in right field for a third-inning homer.

But lefty reliever Brian Duensing backed Arrieta up with two outs and two runners on in the seventh inning, forcing Bellinger to lift a flyball into shallow left field, keeping it a 3-1 game and setting the stage for a two-inning Wade Davis save.

“Jake was amazing,” Davis said. “He was throwing Wiffle balls, it looked like. Guys were just swinging at balls that started in on the zone and finished a foot off the plate. He’s just got some amazing stuff.”

For perspective on how far this franchise has come, just look at the lineup from Arrieta’s first spot start as a Cub, the second game of a July 30, 2013 doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field:

David DeJesus, CF
Junior Lake, LF
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Dioner Navarro, C
Luis Valbuena, 2B
Starlin Castro, SS
Cody Ransom, 3B
Cole Gillespie, RF

The Cubs actually sent Arrieta back to Triple-A Iowa for two more starts that summer, part of a mental/mechanical reset and the service-time calculus that would delay his free-agency clock by a year.

By 2015, Arrieta’s raw talent and natural confidence converged with a young, inexperienced team that caught fire in the second half, his Cy Young Award campaign fueling 97 wins and the momentum for chairman Tom Ricketts to authorize a spending spree on free agents that almost totaled $290 million.

"That was pretty special,” Maddon said. “I've never witnessed on the field that kind of consistent performance from a pitcher. It was other-worldly, right down to the wild-card game.

“My God, you pretty much knew if you scored one or two runs, you're going to win that night somehow. I don't know how this is going to look moving forward. But I know one thing, man, that one year of watching him play was different. It was a throwback to the ‘60s kind of pitching (I watched) as a kid.

“He's special – his work ethic and who he is and how he goes about his business. He's a very special young man.”

But Arrieta really isn’t in the mood to wonder if this is the end scene to this chapter of his life.

“There’s a little thought of that, yeah, because you never know,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, now that the game’s over, it’s out of sight, out of mind. The thought process for me now is to be ready if I’m needed.”