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Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Chicago Cubs, said earlier this week that if the city does not approve his plans to renovate Wrigley Field - the second oldest major league baseball stadium in the country - he would be forced to consider moving the team to another venue or city.

Among Ricketts' demands are that the team be allowed to ad advertising signs, as well as a 6,000 square foot video scoreboard/billboard in left field, which would both add revenue and obscure the field from some of the local rooftops where entrepreneurs sell seats from which people can watch games. (The owners of the rooftops have threatened lawsuits if the renovation goes forward.)

BTW ... the Cubs, as of this writing, are in last place in the National league Central Division, with an 11-17 record, and they are tied with the San Diego Padres with the fifth worst record in all of Major League Baseball.
KC's View:
I have to admit that I have very little compassion for the Ricketts. First of all, if you want your economics to be better, field a better team. Compete for a pennant. Go to the World Series. Maybe even win one more than once every century or so.

The Sports Illustrated story about the Cubs notes that the team itself isn't in bad shape when it comes to fan support: "Last year, the Cubs lost 101 games and were still 10th in the majors in home attendance. This year, their on-field outlook is no better and their average home attendance is 11th in the majors." However, the story also says that "the Ricketts family remains deeply in debt from their purchase of the team in January 2009, with Forbes estimating their remaining debt at $600 million. The Cubs are doing fine, but their owners need money, and they’re willing to deface their iconic ballpark to get it."

There's no question that Wrigley needs some updating. But that can be done without wrecking history. (The Boston Red Sox have done it with Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in the majors.)

But here's what really bothers me about the Ricketts family, and it suggests a broader business lesson...

They knew what they were getting when they bought the Cubs. No bait and switch here. But now, they want to mess with a stadium that a lot of people in Chicago rightly see as their stadium, and threaten to move a team that a lot of people deeply feel is their team.

It is a rare thing in any business when the customer feels such ownership of a place where they spend their money. Maybe it could even be said that these customers, these fans, don't think of themselves as spending money, but rather investing in an experience that feeds their souls.

That's something to be treasured. To be nurtured. Not used as a negotiating tactic. Not taken for granted.

People like Tom Ricketts don't get that. Hell, I don't think people like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds get that. That's a shame.

Of course, greed is at the bottom of it all. Owners greedy for more money, players greedy for bigger paychecks, agents greedy for bigger percentages.

But that's a shame. Because in the end, it is about guys on a field throwing and catching and hitting a ball. It is about grass as green as imaginable, about thick ivy climbing up storied walls, and the dreams of boys who grew into men, but never quite grew up.

The most important thing that doesn't matter, Robert B. Parker once called baseball.

Ultimately, what happens to Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs does not really matter. Not really. Not in the larger scheme of things.

Except, of course, in our hearts and souls, which break a little bit when some guy with a big bank account decides that making it bigger is more important than a respect of history and a sense of context.