When Tom Ricketts officially inherits the Cubs -- and who knows when that will actually happen -- he will inherit a team with national popularity, a dense local fan base, and a commitment to winning in the modern era. The pieces are in place. It's a good franchise, and a good investment (especially if you're Cubs fan, as Ricketts is).
That said, there is one ownership fiasco that's been hanging over the franchise for a while. What will new ownership do with Wrigley Field? Last year there was some talk that a seperate sale of the field and the team could lead to a new Cubs facility out in the suburbs. There were other solutions, including tearing down the concourse and rebuilding it on the same spot. So far the most popular solution to the problem of a decrepit, occasionally dangerous field is to renovate it from the inside out, Fenway Park-style. But will Ricketts dump the cash?
"We don't have adequate player facilities. We don't have a batting tunnel to prepare yourself if you're going to come in and pinch-hit. You hit into a net [in the clubhouse]. … The facilities [at spring training] are better than the facilities we have in Chicago.
"That's one part of it, and the other parts of it are fan amenities. Our mezzanine suites, we don't even call them luxury suites anymore because they're neither luxury, nor suites. We call them skyboxes. We all know the washroom situation is unacceptable. The concession, the quality of the food—we rank at the bottom. "This isn't a revelation to anybody. These are things that we need to do and have needed to do for years, and the Tribune as a public company just couldn't, you just couldn't justify 'Let's go put $250 million into Wrigley Field.' "
That's true, and in the meantime the Cubs facilities waned, not only for the players but for the fans. To be honest, we go to so many games at Wrigley we occasionally forget how nice other ballparks are. A quick visit to Milwaukee -- with its spacious, clean restrooms, it's delicious ballpark food, its increased seat space, and so on -- shocks us back to reality. As much as we love it, Wrigley Field is a dump.
It would be a surprise if the Ricketts ownership group didn't do something about that. At the very least, some marginal improvements -- a batting cage for the players, some better food in the concessions -- would be a welcome and rare change at Wrigley.