The Cubs are lobbying Major League Baseball to host the All-Star Game, targeting 2020 as the ideal time to showcase a fully renovated Wrigley Field.
If that All-Star question seems to come up at Cubs Convention on an almost annual basis, there are reasons to think it's becoming less of a hypothetical: The pace of construction and progress with the $600 million Wrigleyville development combined with Commissioner Rob Manfred's leadership style and sense of urgency to grow the game.
Still buzzing from their champagne-fueled celebrations, the Cubs have been working with City Hall on their sales pitch to a commissioner's office that no longer believes in simply alternating the marquee event between the American and National leagues each year, hoping to make it more like the bidding for a Super Bowl.
"I'm optimistic," business operations president Crane Kenney said Saturday at the downtown Sheraton Grand hotel. "No question, Chicago would be an incredible venue. We saw it during the World Series and the playoffs. We saw it with the TV ratings that were generated.
"We think an All-Star Game here would be hugely popular and do great things for our city and great television ratings for the league."
The Cubs need Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who delivered the NFL draft the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall – to help with an economic message and an increased security plan around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.
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"We should get the All-Star Game," Kenney said. "In 2020, our building's complete, and what (better) way to celebrate the completion of our building than host the All-Star Game?
"If you think about the economic impact of the World Series, the All-Star Game is another World Series, right? So the city wants it. We want it. But we got to convince Manfred that we've earned it. It's a little bit of politics. He has a very open mind to Wrigley getting the All-Star Game at some point.
"We're working closely with the city. We've got a great partnership with Mayor Emanuel, and he understands the value of this team in this market. He would like to see nothing more than an All-Star Game."
One potential roadblock: After striking out on other proposals, the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to bankroll the Wrigleyville project at a time when All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington. Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums.
"We still think we're deserving," Kenney said. "There's a reality to the All-Star Game, though. The All-Star Game gets held based on the commissioner's discretion and typically awarded to cities that have supported the clubs through public financing.
"So if you just look at the slate of cities that are going to get it – from the last couple years going forward – they are generally cities that have new ballparks that were financed with some city support. That obviously didn't happen here.
"It is a little bit of a hurdle for the league to suggest you should reward the city of Chicago – and us with an All-Star Game – when we didn't get the kind of support the other cities got."