According to a string of emails from the Ricketts family, the Cubs owners seriously considered moving the team outside of Chicago. This was apparently based on failed attempts to secure tax-payer money from the city mayor Rahm Emanuel.
It all started back in 2013 when the Ricketts family planned to start their renovations on Wrigley Field. They originally requested $200 million in tax-payer money and eventually agreed to pay $500 million of their own money to invest in the project. The request for $200 million eventually came all the way down to $55 million, but the family was still told no.
Here’s what Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune back in January of 2013.
When I first started this discussion, the Cubs wanted $200 million in taxpayer dollars. I said no. Then they said we’d like $150 million, and I said no. Then they asked whether they could have $100 million in taxpayer subsidies, and I said no. Then they asked about $55 million in taxpayer subsidies. I said no. The good news is, after 15 months they heard the word ‘No.’”
Notice the theme? Emanuel didn’t budge.
Some readers might agree and say the tax money could be used for more important things like education, but the political ties behind all of this makes the situation more intresting.
The Ricketts family is full of proud conservatives, there’s a trail of proof reiterating this. The most telling is a leak indicating they funded an “anti-Obama” campaign with racist connotations.
Emanuel, well, he obviously supports the popular Democrat, and former President, Barack Obama. This was evident when he was reportedly “furious” after the anti-Obama ad funding was discovered. He literally did not return calls from the Ricketts family.
These political ties added fuel to the fire making negotiations on tax dollars even harder. This prompted some emails to be exchanged between members of the Ricketts family. These 2013 emails were recently discovered and posted online.
Todd Ricketts, a Republican fundraiser and the current finance chairman of the Republican National committee, forwarded the story about Emanuel’s fury to his family, writing:
I think we should contemplate moving, or at least recognize that we are maybe not the right organization to own the Cubs.
In a later email, he added:
I just hate the thought of Tom having to grovel to this guy to put money into a building we already own.
Joe Ricketts, a prominent conservative, replied:
Yes Todd, it makes me sad, it hurts my feelings to see Tom treated this way. He is way superior to the Mayor in every way.
I have been brought up to deplore the type of value system adopted by the Mayor of Chicago. This is stating it mildly.
Chicago fans are probably most familiar with Tom Ricketts, he’s the chairman of the Cubs and public face. However, the actual ownership of the Cubs is split among the family.
The end result was $575 million spent by the Ricketts family and $0 spent by Chicago tax payers. Was this the right call? That would depend on who you ask.
Deadspin sums it up well …
Meanwhile, the relationship between the mayor and the Ricketts family does appear to have improved since the Cubs won a World Series. Still, it remains rather awkward when the family that owns a major baseball team in a liberal city spends more than half a million dollars to air pro–Brett Kavanaugh ads.
The part that Deadspin forgot to mention is Emanuel is not seeking re-election. His critics reportedly go far beyond the members of the Ricketts family.
Facing a wide field of challengers and critiques over a tenure that included clashes over police conduct, school closings and street violence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Tuesday that he would not be seeking re-election.
It should be interesting to see if the new Chicago mayor is more Cubs-friendly than Rahm. However, with Emanuel on his way out and the Wrigley Field renovation expected to fully complete this year – it’s safe to say the Cubs aren’t going anywhere.
We were *this* close to the Omaha Cubs. That would have been so awesome.
— Tom (@notfaketom) December 18, 2018