During a conversation Wednesday with Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Gov. Bruce Rauner related the organization's recent turnaround to his attempts to overhaul the state government.
“I’ve been a student of how you’ve turned it around,” Rauner told Ricketts during a sit-down that was broadcast on Facebook Live. "Sometimes I feel like we in the state of Illinois, with our government, we’re about the Cubs in about 2013, or something. We’re going through the restructuring and the transformation and we need to do that same thing."
"Maybe a couple years from now, Illinois will be champions of America, just like you guys have done for baseball,” he added.
The billionaire Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009, completely revamping organization and turning the team into a perennial contender in the National League. The governor interviewed Ricketts Wednesday in Springfield as lawmakers celebrated the team’s recent World Series victory by decorating the Capitol with "W" flags and posing for photos with the Commissioner's Trophy.
“It’s fabulous just to be able to be a small part of something that means so much to so many people and make so many people happy,” Ricketts said.
During the conversation, Ricketts noted that he had a nightmare about the Cubs losing the World Series’ deciding game seven after the team had already clinched the title.
“You have post season stress disorder,” he recalled his wife telling him.
Rauner, who called former Cub Billy Williams his “personal hero,” reflected on attending the parade that followed the club’s historic World Series win.
“It was such fun for Diana and I to be in that parade with you guys and to see the sea of blue hats and blue sweaters as far as the eye could,” Rauner said. "They were everywhere. Tens and tens of thousands of people. It was so fun.”
“Millions, by the way,” Ricketts corrected the governor.
“There’s never been a gathering like that in the history of man,” he added.
Ricketts, a Chicago investment banker and son to Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Company, said he’s confident about the future of the organization and the Cubs' prospects for next season. However, he conceded that the young team could use more starting pitching options.
“We’re in a pretty good spot,” he said. "We should be consistently good for years to come.”
The Cubs chairman told Rauner that renovations to Wrigley Field are about halfway done, noting that the organization has already started work on an outdoor plaza outside the ballpark. He also noted that an adjacent new hotel will be opened next year.
“As people come to the ballpark over the next few years, they’ll start to see more changes, start to get more concession stands and more food options, get more washrooms built, which is important to us,” Ricketts said.
“I’ve stood in that line a little bit,” Rauner joked.