Results tagged ‘ Laura Ricketts ’
In their sixth year as owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family goals to win the World Series, restore Wrigley Field for future generations and be a good neighbor, remain the same. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts will be on hand as 670 The Score’s Mully and Hanley discuss with them the strides they have made across each of these goals over the last year, plus answer questions from you, the fans.
The Ricketts Family panel opened up the full slate of Saturday panels at the 2016 Cubs Convention. With Tom, Laura and Todd Ricketts on hand, Tom opened up the discussion with the excitement of the offseason. He described his post-season meeting with baseball president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. The front office duo proposed an ideal offseason for the club, with the understanding that it was unlikely it would all come to fruition. However, as Hoyer stated at last night’s Ryan Dempster panel, the organization was able to land just about everyone on their wish list; the team signed Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey in a trio of free-agent signings while flipping Starlin Castro for pitcher Adam Warren.
On the same note with Heyward, Tom was jokingly bitter at the reminder that the first game of the Ricketts’ ownership began with Heyward launching a homer to right field off of then-Cub Carlos Zambrano in the first inning of Opening Day, 2010.
The panelists were asked their favorite moments of the season, and Tom actually pointed to a moment in 2014, when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo challenged the entire Reds dugout after Aroldis Chapman had thrown a few pitches high and tight on then-Rizzo teammate Nate Schierholtz. It showed his leadership capabilities and showed that as a team, they were not going to back down from anybody. It’s a trait that he feels carried over into 2015.
Laura’s favorite moment came during the one-game playoff in Pittsburgh, where the whole family was able to attend. Though it was on the road, she applauded the atmosphere, describing how loud the setting was.
“There were a great number of Cubs fans there that night,” Todd added. “I had a transformation of mind, like ‘we’re here, we’re in the fox hole, this is incredible.’”
Todd then described his wife as somebody who wasn’t initially committed to baseball, but something that has grown on her. But bitter from her take on Mets fans after the Cubs NLCS, she loved the Royals winning the World Series. After Matt Harvey refused to come out of the World Series game and the Mets wound up blowing a lead, his wife jumped out of her chair and yelled, “Screw you Matt Harvey, screw you!”
Tom said there won’t be many notable visible changes to Wrigley Field for fans this year, believing the updated clubhouse will be the biggest change to the ballpark. He explained the inferior state of the players’ facilities before they took ownership, and didn’t want to sell a first-class organization with third-class amenities.
The emcees then turned the questions over to fans in attendance.
The Ricketts’ were asked about, “the holdup on the extension” with Theo Epstein, who’s in the final year of a five-year deal.
Tom said they’re on the same page, with a deal that will likely work itself out in due time. He was unwilling to give a timeline, but believes a deal will get done that is beneficial to all parties. Ricketts also applauded his front office, noting that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have turned down bigger jobs from other organizations in exchange for seeing out their World Series goals.
The family was asked about what it’s like to work together as a family. Todd said that as a kid, he was told by his mom that there could be squabbles inside the house, but they need to remember that they’re a family. Laura said that they have weekly family business meetings, where everybody is kept up to date. She also said Tom makes a lot of decisions, but they are all in the best interest of the family.
Another fan asked if there would be the ability to walk around the entire stadium in the near future. Tom fielded the question, and noted that one of the big issues is that the bleachers are general admission and there are not many other ballparks in baseball with general admission, making it difficult to regulate seating. And they’re highly desirable seats, people want to sit there.
In regards to Alderman Tom Tunney, the three wanted to remind people that the hope with the exterior Wrigley Field renovations are for people who live around Wrigley to treat Cubs Plaza like a town’s square of sorts.
As it does every year, Saturday at the Cubs Convention kicked off with the Ricketts Family Forum. Heading into their sixth season as owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Rickettses have made significant progress on the organization’s goals to win a World Series, preserve Wrigley Field for future generations and be a good neighbor in the community. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts were on hand with host Len Kasper to discuss the strides the team has made in support of these goals over the last year. As always, they also took plenty of questions from fans. Here’s are the highlights from this morning’s convention:
Pete couldn’t be here because he is now the governor of Nebraska. I guess that’s a good excuse, but the rest of the family is here.
Tom Ricketts opened things up with a statement about the state of the Cubs now. He started with the Ricketts’ three stated goals—winning a World Series, preserving the ballpark and being a good neighbor in the community. He said they have made a lot of progress on all of them last year.
Cubs Charities donated more than $4.5 million in 2014. Cubs associates donated 100 gifts of service during Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary year.
On the ballpark side, the Cubs had THE year. Ricketts joked about how easy that process has all been.
“We are going to preserve and improve the best ballpark in the world,” Tom said.
On the field, it doesn’t all happen at once. They have been spending a lot of time, energy and resources to build best organization in baseball. The new facilities in the Dominican and in Mesa, Arizona, have been big steps. They broke all Spring Training attendance records at Sloan Park/Cubs Park in 2014. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been adding talent through minor leagues, trades and the draft. It was rewarding seeing people say the Cubs had the top minor league system in baseball.
“When you add all those things up, we feel like last year was a real inflection point in the history of the organization, and we look forward to the year ahead,” Tom said.
Next came the question-and-answer session:
- The first question is not a question, but a huge pat on the back from a fan. He complimented the Ricketts family on the care they’ve put into their ownership.
- The second “questioner” brought a prepared, written statement. It started with an audible audience groan, but it was actually pretty complimentary. And not as long as you’d expect.
- Another compliment, but we do finally get a question. She has heard the ivy and outfield wall are down and wants to know if they will be up for Opening Day. Tom says the ivy has been taken off the wall and laid on the ground, so they can work on the wall brick by brick. They keep what they can, and replace the damaged bricks. The wall is actually still standing right now. They will always keep the same ivy. Also, this isn’t the first time the ivy has been removed.
- Laura takes a minute to thank the fans for their patience with this process. It’s a lovefest so far.
- When are the bathrooms going to be done? They can’t say exactly when each thing will be done in the restoration. It’s a process. They can’t do everything at once because they want to play at the ballpark in the summers, so they can only work in the winter. The Cubs contemplated trying to play at the Cell or in Milwaukee for a year to get the renovations done faster, but quickly decided against it.
- How hard is it to balance profitability with the other three main goals? Tom talks about the context of making money in sports. You generate as much as you can, you pay your expenses, then you take the remaining dollars and allocate them to the organization. That’s why the restoration is so important. That money goes back into the team.
- A question about the three new rooftop properties the Ricketts family recently purchased. Tom talks about doing what is best for the Cubs to generate revenue and do what’s right for the team. They intend to run the buildings as rooftops for the time being. It’s what’s right for the team and what’s best for the organization.
- Here’s the long-awaited question about the new broadcast deal. The questioner is now out of market for many games. Is there anything that can be done for people in Peoria, Rockford, etc.? Tom says the Comcast games are still on Comcast, but he talks about how the WGN Superstation—or the idea of a superstation in general—is going away. Tom says it’s a high priority to make sure people have access, but he doesn’t have many answers to offer yet.
- If the bleachers aren’t ready on Opening Day what’s going to happen? Tom says it looks like it’s going to be a challenge to get that done. It could take through April. They do have a contingency plan in place for season ticket holders, and that will be discussed in detail in the Business Ops panel at 2 p.m. Renovating this ballpark is a big challenge, and there may be delays here and there, but it’s well worth it to continue to play at Wrigley Field, Laura says.
- There’s a lot of talk about making the park more kid friendly. The Ricketts are working on it. Clark was a big step in that direction. But a 100-year-old ballpark wasn’t built with kids in mind. The restoration will add more kid-friendly aspects. Quote of the panel: “If you’re bringing your five best friends from college, Wrigley Field is built for speed,” Tom says. “But for kids, it’s a little bit more of a challenge.”
- A question from a local resident about what fans will see at Wrigley on Opening Day and what the parking situation will look like. It will be similar to years past, Tom says. There’s the free remote lot. But things really won’t be that different from a parking perspective.
- A fan who grew up in the 1990s asks a question about Sammy Sosa and whether a reunion is in the works. Sosa is the main reason he became a fan. Tom says there are a few things that have to happen before Sosa comes back. It was a pretty vague answer, but that’s been the answer for a while now.
That’s it. Off to the Baseball Ops panel. Stay tuned for more. We’ll be blogging all day today and tomorrow.
The Cubs welcomed the Lake View community to their annual tree-lighting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the holidays and conclude the team’s 100 Gifts of Service initiative. The 100 Gifts of Service projects were part of a yearlong program featuring Cubs players and associates engaging in community service in celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday season. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was on hand along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts, President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and representatives from many of the organizations that benefited from the team’s charitable acts this year. The large tree, donated by Christy Webber Landscapes, is located in front of the Cubs Store at the northwest corner of the Clark and Addison intersection. We were at Wrigley Field last night to help ring in the holiday season. And look for a feature story on the 100 Gifts of Service project in the January issue of Vine Line.
Cubs Charities, in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago, announced the launch of the Cubs Charities Diamond Project. The Diamond Project marks the third signature program Cubs Charities has launched. In 2013, they introduced the Cubs Scholars program and the Cubs On The Move Fitness Trolley.
The Diamond Project aims to improve the quality and safety of local baseball fields in the Chicago area. The project will expand opportunities for children to play baseball, create or preserve green space, and foster a love of the game, particularly in the inner city where baseball has experienced a significant decline.
“The Diamond Project aligns with our mission to be good neighbors and Cubs Charities’ goal of providing health and physical education activities for our youth,” said Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts. “We’re thrilled to invest in our communities and offer the opportunity for children to continue to develop their love and passion for the game of baseball.”
Cubs Charities, with technical assistance from LISC Chicago, will identify communities in need of new or improved baseball fields and provide grants to facilities that will be used to promote health and wellness through baseball. In addition to monetary support, the Wrigley Field Grounds Crew will advise Cubs Charities Diamond Project grantees during projects and maintenance.
“Public recreational spaces are essential to the health of every neighborhood,” said Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director. “We’re honored to partner with Cubs Charities to support new or renovated fields that will serve as tremendous community assets, especially for young people.”
An information session for nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations and schools in the Chicago area will be held at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, April 30, at 10:00 a.m. in the Budweiser Bleacher Suite. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend. For additional information on the Cubs Charities Diamond Project and how to apply, please visit http://www.cubs.com/diamondproject.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Chicago Cubs will be inducted into the inaugural class of The National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Friday evening, joining other organizations, former pro sports officials, activists, journalists, and retired and current athletes. The National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame selected the Cubs for being the first professional male sports team in the country to place an ad in a gay newspaper in 2000; hosting Gay Games VII at Wrigley Field in 2006; being the first professional male sports team to have a float in an LGBT pride parade in 2010; and being the first team in Major League Baseball with an openly gay owner—Chicago Cubs board member and Chicago Cubs Charities chair Laura Ricketts.
“We are honored to be included in the inaugural class of the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame,” Ricketts said. “When you look at the other impressive and talented individuals who were selected for this great distinction, we feel very special to be included among these great pioneers in sports.”
Other inductees in the inaugural class are Anheuser-Busch, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Glenn Burke, Ben Cohen, Jason Collins, Orlando Cruz, Chuck Dima, Justin Fashanu, Gay Games, Andrew Goldstein, LZ Granderson, International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), Christina Kahrl, Billie Jean King, Chris Kluwe, Dave Kopay, Greg Louganis, Martina Navratilova, Outsports.com, Dave Pallone, Jerry Pritikin, Renee Richards, Patty Sheehan, Dr. Tom Waddell and Johnny Weir.
The induction of the first honorees occurs Friday night during a ceremony at the Center on Halsted in Chicago. Tickets, available as VIP or general admission, are available at http://www.gayandlesbiansports.com.
The induction ceremony will be held in conjunction with tomorrow’s annual “Out at Wrigley” game, the nation’s largest “Gay Day” at a major league sporting event. Tickets for the Aug. 3 “Out at Wrigley” event can be purchased in the Terrace Reserve or all-inclusive Budweiser Patio at http://www.outatwrigley.com. Budweiser Patio tickets include a free ticket to tonight’s HOF Induction Ceremony. Wrigley Field will also fly two rainbow flags over the stadium Saturday, while Adam LeBlanc, winner of the “Out at Wrigley” Anthem Finals, will perform the National Anthem.