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updated: 4/4/2014 9:16 PM

Ricketts' only option is to stay the course

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  • Tom Ricketts

      Tom Ricketts

 
 

Tom Ricketts was excited Friday morning.

The Cubs' chairman made his media rounds in anticipation of the club's home opener. Hope was in the air and his voice.

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Then this.

The Phillies drubbed the Cubs 7-2. The Wrigley Field crowd of 38,283 wasn't a sellout. There was a smattering of boos from the smattering of fans left at the end.

Meanwhile, neighbors of the remote parking lot 2.5 miles from the ballpark groused about the extra traffic.

Happy New Year, Mr. Ricketts.

This kind of day could discourage the rosiest optimist, but Ricketts is in too deep now to get too down on his plan to renovate 100-year-old Wrigley Field.

Nor should Ricketts consider any more dramatic changes to the grand design. Other sports owners trying to upgrade facilities in Chicago became desperate and settled for less when more was needed.

The White Sox couldn't negotiate what they wanted and wound up playing at the wrong location. The Bears became desperate and wound up in a stadium with the NFL's smallest seating capacity.

The Cubs could give in to the rooftop owners delaying the process, accept fewer revenue streams and take only what they can get instead of what they need.

No, no, no.

Look, I disagree with much of what the Cubs are doing in rebuilding the ballclub and renovating the ballpark.

The Ricketts family certainly shouldn't squash the rooftop owners to squirm out of a contract the Tribune ownership signed a decade ago.

At this point, though, the Ricketts must stay the course, as bumpy as it is. They have to keep trying to negotiate an out or search for loopholes to prevail in court.

"We're trying to do things right for the long term," Ricketts said.

What he thinks is right isn't necessarily right but the team and park are his babies now and he has to continue working toward the family's concept of a perfect world.

Or what's left of it.

"We've made a lot of concessions," Ricketts said.

Side with Ricketts or with the rooftop owners. Endorse the rehab or prefer to leave the ballpark as is. Campaign for a move to Rosemont or to stay in Wrigleyville.

Whatever you believe doesn't matter. All that matters is what Ricketts believes.

"We want to do things right for the long term," Ricketts said.

As progress stalls like Cubs on the bases, tedious is the word that comes to mind. The temptation might be to give in just to get the whole thing over with.

Still, doing nothing is better than doing half of something.

Most successful businessmen have a way of getting their way. They build empires upon the ability to play the system.

Except that the Sox and Bears learned how difficult it is to get something done amid conflicting political, social and economic interests in Chicago and Illinois.

The Sox and Bears were patient and patient and patient until their patience ran out of patience.

The Ricketts shouldn't make the same mistake and so far indicate no inclination to do so.

At least the delay enabled the Ricketts to ponder a plan to sell minority interests in the franchise to help pay for the renovations.

The one thing the Ricketts shouldn't do is what the Sox and Bears did … desperately compromise for what they can get instead of waiting for what they require.

"We're going to keep working and see what happens," Tom Ricketts said.

If it takes another season or a couple seasons or an eternity, Cubs' ownership has to stay as close to the original blueprint as possible.

Yes, even though circumstances might suck the excitement out of a couple more home openers.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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