In the second part of my wide-ranging interview with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, he addresses the needed renovations to Wrigley Field, plans for building on the triangle property adjacent to the ballpark, and plans for the new spring training complex to be built in Mesa, Arizona.
Note: this interview was conducted before the Cubs' recent purchase of the McDonald's property across Clark Street from Wrigley Field, so that topic wasn't available to be addressed at the time I spoke with him.
BCB: What about the Triangle Building? In the end, who’s going to raise the funds for that? Is that going to go on the business side?
TR: That’s a business thing.
BCB: Some people have said Theo’s going to be doing that now because he has the background in doing it and it really seems more like the baseball side.
TR: Well, where Theo can add value with regard to the stadium is experience in what he helped execute at Fenway. So, to the extent that he was involved the structural improvements made at Fenway, not so much on the fan side, but on the player side, I think he’ll be a value add on that and it think it’ll be a plus to us, too.
BCB: Where do things stand as of now on both the Triangle Building and the ballpark renovations?
TR: It’s still a work in progress. We have done a lot of our homework on what we need to do with the field. We’ve hired the architects and designers, some who have done a lot of the work on Fenway. We think we have a pretty good feel for what we have to do with Wrigley long term. The question is how it all fits with what has to go onto the Triangle parcel, so we’re not 100 percent sure. We’re also still in dialogue with our elected officials and other people to talk about how we can make it all work for the Cubs the best – come up with the best win-win solution, but we don’t have an answer yet exactly.
BCB: Do you have any specifics? I know there was a survey sent out to season ticket holders about what they thought, and neighborhood people too about what they thought they might want to see there. Have you gotten any further in saying what form this building will specifically take beyond team offices and player facilities?
TR: We definitely have garnered a lot of information on what kind of things people would like to see on the triangle parcel. Both fans from the day of game basis and neighbors on both game days and non-game days, what would make the most sense for them. We’re not 100 percent sure what we’re going to do exactly yet, so we’re probably not going to talk about it until we have the whole plan in place.
BCB: And are you still looking at a time frame that would get the 2016 All-Star Game here as well?
TR: We’re always hoping to get it sooner rather than later.
BCB: No specific timeline at this point?
TR: Ultimately I don’t think you can force the action on that. So hopefully we're moving quickly and whenever we do start the project we’ll be able to execute quickly because we’re very well prepared. But the final plan hasn’t been handed out.
BCB: Any truth to the rumors that the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority is going to buy Wrigley Field and run it?
TR: We’re not talking with anybody about selling the field.
BCB: In terms of renovations to the ballpark, I’ve got to ask the Jumbotron question and the ribbon board question again. Any big things that you’re looking at?
TR: We’ve looked a lot of those different ideas and we’ve surveyed people about them. We really won’t know what the changes are until we get kind of a real good feel for what the final plan is. It’s still kind of a work in progress there, and we have to weigh all the factors at the right time and when we can, make the right decision. So, nothing yet. No big plans for this off season.
BCB: So the work that’s going on right now is just general maintenance?
TR: Yeah, a lot of cement has to be replaced every year, a lot of concrete’s being replaced. We’re doing largely general maintenance. There are always different issues around the park that we address every season.
BCB: What’s the latest on the spring training complex? Where does that stand and where will it be moving, say, in the next six months to a year?
TR: We are in the stage now where we’re still working with the architects to design the complex. We’ve got to figure out how it all fits on the property and the basics of how it’s going to look. It’ll take a few more months.
BCB: I’ve seen some drawings. Maybe those are just renderings.
TR: I know there have been some renderings that have been out there, but I think it’s only now that the architects are digging in to make sure that we have it the way that we want it.
BCB: Do you have an estimated time for groundbreaking or not yet?
TR: There’s no date set. I’d imagine sometime this winter is when we start putting shovels in the ground.
BCB: You’re looking to open it the summer of 2013 and then spring training in 2014?
TR: We’ll have two more spring trainings in our current facilities. We’re definitely going to do that.
BCB: Is the Wrigleyville West area with the restaurants and everything still part of that plan?
TR: Yes. We’re still committed to giving fans a lot more to do when they come down to spring training. We think we have a better location for doing that. We’re working with the city on different ideas, trying to bring in some other things to do when you come to the park for spring training. Nothing is finalized yet but we have some time to figure out how that will fit.