DuPage County trying to land Chicago Cubs
DuPage County is working quickly to develop a plan to bring the Chicago Cubs to the Western suburbs after being approached by an unnamed intermediary of the Ricketts family, county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.
Cronin said Wednesday the county will "have something to propose within 10 days."
"We'd be thrilled and delighted if the Cubs wanted to move to DuPage," he said. "We are going to make a pitch."
Until recently, Cronin said, county officials did not seriously consider trying to lure the Cubs because he believed the owners were committed to Chicago.
That changed, he said, when he learned about the Ricketts family's reaction to the Chicago City Council's "hostile" reception to plans to renovate Wrigley Field.
"They are so disappointed, discouraged and unhappy with their treatment from the city of Chicago leadership that they are now open -- genuinely open -- to the idea of relocating and rebuilding a replica of Wrigley Field somewhere outside of the city," Cronin said. "DuPage County is a place where they are interested in moving."
While there's long been opposition in some quarters to the Wrigley renovation plans, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has never talked directly to Cronin about moving the team, according to Ricketts family spokesman Dennis Culloton.
"They have met once or twice, but they have never spoken about this issue," Culloton said. "I can't speak to whether someone else suggested it to them (DuPage officials)."
To build a new stadium in DuPage, the Cubs would need at least a 40-acre site.
Cronin said officials have identified "no less than two and no more than four" possible locations in DuPage. To be considered, sites must be near a public transit rail and major roads.
"I can't tell you where those sites are at this point in time," Cronin said. "We're just starting the conversation with all of the different property owners."
Cronin acknowledged there's "not an abundant" supply of open space in DuPage.
"But there are some (sites), and we're exploring those," he said.
Cronin wasn't able to indicate what incentives, if any, the county could offer the Cubs to build a ballpark in DuPage.
"If we gave them nothing and they just came out here and purchased property and built a business, they would be saving a minimum of $17 million a year because they wouldn't have to pay the city of Chicago's amusement tax," Cronin said. "So by coming to DuPage, they would get a $17 million annual incentive to come here."
In addition, Cronin said, there are a large number of Cubs season ticket holders living in the suburbs.
"Combined with the fact that this is a good family community, it would be a more family-oriented product," he said.
DuPage officials, of course, won't be the only ones suggesting alternate ballpark sites if the team's negotiations with Chicago fall through.
Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens is offering about 25 acres of village-owned land off the Tri-State Tollway and Balmoral Avenue.
Arlington Heights officials said there have been rumors for years about Arlington International Racecourse being a possible location. However, they said they haven't been contacted or seen details about a specific plan.
"I've heard the rumors before, too," said Jon Ridler, executive director of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. "But there's nothing to it that I know of."
Culloton said suburban officials are "looking at the headlines" and becoming more interested in the Cubs.
"They want to be ready in the event things do not go according plan in Chicago," he said.
Still, Culloton stressed, the owners would prefer to keep the Cubs in Chicago. "That's always been Tom Ricketts' first choice and the first choice of his family," Culloton said.
The Ricketts are focused on working with Chicago officials to achieve an estimated $500 million "reinvestment to save Wrigley Field," Culloton said. The proposal calls for $300 million in renovations to the ballpark and a $200 million investment in the surrounding neighborhood.
• Daily Herald staff writer Melissa Silverberg contributed to this report.