Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens on Monday offered the Chicago Cubs a new home in the tiny suburb of roughly 4,000 residents, if the team’s negotiations with Chicago fall through.
Stephens is offering up roughly 25 acres of village-owned property off the Tri-State Tollway and Balmoral Avenue where the Cubs could build a new ballpark to mirror the 99-year-old Wrigley Field, as well as parking and other facilities.
Rosemont spokesman Gary Mack said Stephens has had conversations with a couple of people close to the Cubs, though, he added, the mayor has not spoken with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.
“The negotiations for the Cubs and trying to get what they want with the city has been difficult,” Mack said. “(Stephens) simply says, if this doesn’t work, Rosemont is an option and we want you to know that. The mayor has no interest in undercutting anything that’s going on in negotiations with the city.”
The Ricketts family purchased the Cubs from the Tribune Co. in October 2009. Since then, the team has been looking to renovate the aging Wrigley Field, and negotiations are under way to finance the ballpark’s overhaul, estimated at $500 million. The family has asked Chicago to relax rules limiting signage and the number of night games allowed — currently 30 — to increase revenue and help pay for the renovation.
Ricketts family spokesman Dennis Culloton acknowledged Stephens’ offer but added the family has no intention of moving the team from Chicago.
“Since day one, the Ricketts family has been working tirelessly to develop a championship organization and to come up with a plan to preserve Wrigley Field and invest in the neighborhood,” he said. “They appreciate the expressions of interest from Rosemont and others; however, the current focus is to work toward an agreement with the city of Chicago.”
Former DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom made a similar offer to the Ricketts family last summer.
Rosemont would charge the Cubs a much lower amusement tax than Chicago — 3 percent compared to Chicago’s 12 percent.
Mack said Rosemont already is known for being a sports hub. Stephens lured the Chicago Bandits professional women’s softball team away from Elgin by building it a $6 million, 2,000-seat stadium on the northeast corner of Bryn Mawr Avenue and Pearl Street, west of the Tri-State Tollway.
Rosemont already is home to the DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball team, the Chicago Wolves hockey team, the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the Chicago Rush arena football team, all of which play at the Allstate Arena.
“This is not at all a far-fetched idea because Rosemont would be a phenomenal location for a professional sports franchise,” Mack said. “You are right at the doorstep of O’Hare (International Airport). You’ve got thousands of hotel rooms at walking distance of where this would be. And you throw in all the entertainment that’s there too, it’s really an ideal location.”
Asked if Stephens was a Cubs fan, Mack said the mayor loves baseball and is “a massive sports fan.”
“He loves all manner of sports,” he said.
Ÿ Daily Herald sports writer Mike Spellman contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.