Results tagged ‘ Todd Ricketts ’
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 kicked off the holiday season in fine fashion on Friday with the second annual lighting of the holiday tree and the grand opening of the Rink at Wrigley. Hundreds of fans were on hand to watch Tom and Todd Ricketts, David and Kim DeJesus, Fergie Jenkins, Congressman Mike Quigley and many others light the 30-foot tree, which is located in front of the famous Wrigley Field marquee. Chicago Cubs Charities and WGN also kicked off a toy drive at Wrigley. All presents will be donated to Jennifer Hudson’s Julian D. King Gift Foundation.
Wrigley Field vendor Rocco Caputo threw out a first pitch last year after appearing with Cubs board member Todd Ricketts on Undercover Boss. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Here’s a current listing of the seventh-inning stretch conductors for this weekend:
- Monday, Sept. 5. Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks
- Tuesday, Sept. 6. David Kaplan and Todd Hollandsworth / Comcast SportsNet Cubs analysts
- Wednesday, Sept. 7. Rocco Caputo and Todd Ricketts / Wrigley Field vendor and Cubs board member
While you’re at the ballpark this week, be sure to pick up a Vine Line Game Day Edition, the Wrigley Field program and scorecard that’s only $2.
Illustration by Jerry Neumann. Featured in the upcoming June 2011 issue of Vine Line (subscribe).
The Cubs-Brewers rivalry may be best known for the highway—Interstate 94—that connects Chicago and Milwaukee. But Cubs board member Todd Ricketts is out to prove once again that the scenic route is the one worth traveling.
The second annual Wrigley Field Road Tour departs Aug. 27, 2011, and on May 12, Ricketts led a crew of brightly clad cyclists to the Friendly Confines to promote the event, benefitting Chicago Cubs Charities and World Bicycle Relief (WBR).
Ricketts, who had just returned from WBR operations in the Republic of Zambia, described the power two wheels provided for a 9-year-old girl.
“Before, when she was walking [to school], she’d have to leave in the dark, and she’d be coming home in the dark,” Ricketts told Len Kasper and Bob Brenly on air. “So this is going to be nice for her to be able to stay home, wait for the daylight to come [and still] get to school in a timely manner.” (more…)
Cubs board member Todd Ricketts (left) will be leading 163 bike riders in the Wrigley Field Road Tour century ride tomorrow at 8 a.m. The group will make the 100-mile trip from Clark and Addison to Milwaukee’s Miller Park, where they’ll watch the Cubs taking on the Brewers.
Among the riders tomorrow are Todd’s brother and fellow board member Pete, SRAM executive vice president F.K. Day (far right), and Rahsaan Bahati, the 2008 U.S. Professional Criterium National Champion.
All told, riders already have raised more than $105,000 for World Bicycle Relief and Chicago Cubs Charities. That funding will help support our local neighborhood programs in Wrigleyville as well as improverished communities throughout the world, through the empowerment of bicycles.
For a recap of the event and Wrigley Field happenings throughout the year, subscribe to Vine Line.
— Sean Ahmed