Add DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin to the list of suburban politicians angling to lure the Chicago Cubs to his turf if there’s an unlikely collapse of the city-sanctioned framework plan to renovate Wrigley Field.
Citing what he described as a lack of progress in the team’s efforts to get City Council approval of its $500 million plan, Cronin said Wednesday that he’s instructed his county’s economic development board to scout locations for a “replica” Wrigley.
“We have learned that the Cubs have become particularly disappointed, disenchanted, unhappy with the progress of their negotiations with the city,” Cronin said. “About 10 days ago I learned from people with the Cubs organization and the family that owns the Cubs that they would like us to consider putting a proposal together, that the game has changed in some respects, that this is not a long shot that they would leave Chicago.”
But Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the Ricketts family that owns the team, said the Cubs continue working to secure approval of final plans to renovate Wrigley based on the framework that emerged in mid-April after weeks of intense negotiations among Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th.
“Tom (Ricketts’) focus and the focus of the Ricketts family is to achieve the Chicago framework,” Culloton said. “So there are no plans at this time to listen to any other presentations.”
Culloton, a communications consultant, is on the board of directors for Choose DuPage, the county’s economic development board. Culloton said he has not talked to Cronin or other DuPage officials about a move to the west suburbs.
In early May, Ricketts said the Cubs would consider moving if the city failed to approve new jumbo-sized electronic signs the team wants to put up on the ballpark’s outer walls. Emanuel and Tunney have agreed to the signs, if not the precise size.
Also part of the framework was an agreement to boost the number of yearly night games to at least 40, an increase of 10. The City Council last week voted to allow up to 46, but Cubs officials said rules for rescheduling rain-outs and limits on Friday or Saturday night games played were not in keeping with the framework.
The renovation plans have been submitted to the city, but Tunney said they will need to be altered based on a rigorous community review process. Wrigleyville residents over the years have resisted various plans to alter the ballpark and add night games.
Cronin said he has in mind at least two sites of at least 40 acres near commuter train lines and would like to make a presentation to Cubs officials by Aug. 1. “Most importantly, we want to make sure that we have community support,” he said.
Beating Cronin to the punch in another unlikely gambit to lure the Cubs was Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens, who publicly sprang his offer as the Ricketts family, Emanuel and Tunney were hammering out the framework.
An Emanuel spokeswoman on Wednesday noted the identities of Wrigley and the surrounding neighborhood are intertwined.
“It’s not just Wrigley Field, but Wrigleyville, that has served as friendly confines for the Cubs,” said Sarah Hamilton, who noted that in recent years the Cubs have purchased nearby properties to build a hotel and house team offices.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun