Rosemont mayor says door is still open to Cubs

As the Chicago Cubs' battle with Wrigleyville rooftop club owners over plans to renovate the 100-year-old ballpark, one suburban mayor says his door remains open to Cubs brass if they want to consider moving the team to his town.

Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens said Wednesday that about 25 acres of village-owned property west of the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) at Balmoral Avenue is still available and ripe for commercial development, and he's welcoming the Cubs or anyone else who is interested.

“Obviously we'd listen to anything. We really don't have any redevelopment agreement on that site, so if they'd call, we'd talk to them,” Stephens said. “Depending on what the deal is, how we could get there, and how everything gets done, the proof is in the numbers.”

“It almost seems like divorce isn't an option for them down there and they're pretty solid on staying in Wrigleyville,” Stephens added. “If they'd call, we'd talk to them. But I'm not very optimistic.”

Stephens offered the land to the Cubs for free last March, as the Cubs were negotiating with the city of Chicago over renovations to Wrigley Field.

The Chicago City Council later approved a revised $500 million plan for the ballpark renovation and redevelopment of the immediate neighborhood. But now those plans may be further delayed by an ongoing dispute between the Cubs and rooftop owners over a proposed 650-square-foot right field sign that could block the views of some rooftops.

The building owners have threatened to sue the Cubs for violating terms of a revenue-sharing agreement they have with the organization.

Despite the conflict with the rooftop owners, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is committed to keeping the team in Chicago, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday.

“We are still trying to figure out a solution to renovate the ballpark, so we can play baseball at the corner of Clark and Addison,” Green said.

However, Green said Cubs officials are “flattered” by Stephens' offer.

Ricketts left open the door last May that he might move the team out of the Friendly Confines if the Cubs weren't allowed to install the right field sign and a left field video board that would provide advertising revenue needed to pay for renovations.

He did reiterate, however, that he was committed to working out a deal for Wrigley Field.

Stephens was at the event where Ricketts made those comments — a City Club of Chicago breakfast — the last time the mayor says he spoke with the Cubs chairman.

“There's been no other discussions other than me seeing Tom at the City Club breakfast, saying hello, and that's it,” Stephens said.

Of the 25 acres Stephens has offered the Cubs, about 10 are on the north side of Balmoral at Pearl Street, and another 15 are on the south side of Balmoral, east of the existing Rosemont Metra station. One possibility to connect the sites is to “bore through” Balmoral, Stephens said.

On the south side of Balmoral, the village has already or is in the process of buying and tearing down at least seven buildings that have been used for light industry.

Stephens said “interest has been peaked” by some who are interested in retail uses there. The vacant land is located across I-294 from the Fashion Outlets of Chicago mall that opened last August.

“It's not like we're going to halt any discussions we're having with potential users for that site (in hopes of landing the Cubs),” Stephens said. “We're going to keep going forward with our broker and some potential users out there.”

Ÿ The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens has offered the Chicago Cubs 25 acres of land at no charge for a potential new stadium, including 15 acres south of Balmoral Avenue and west of the Tri-State Tollway. Joe Lewnard/
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