Cubs Insider got the chance to sit down today with Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts at Sloan Park to get the lowdown on everything from the 1060 Project to how the team will handle being defending champions. Because of the amount of information covered by Ricketts and Julian Green, the Cubs’ VP of Communications, we’re going to try to present this in more of a quick-hit format.
Green spoke first and discussed mainly the ongoing construction at Wrigley Field, which has left the park looking like a demilitarized zone since Game 7 ended. Here’s what he had to say about the progress of the multifaceted project:
- Bullpens should be completed by opening day
- Shell of American Airlines 1914 club completed by opening day
- Seats behind home plate attached to AA 1914 club have been completed
- Full club to be completed by 2018
- Clubs being added on first and third base side
- New western gate completed for opening day
- Plaza completed by opening day
- Announcements coming in March on specific in-season plaza events
- Plaza on game days will be restricted to ticket holders and, at this time, they’re working on how exactly they’ll restrict usage (gates/barricades) to ticket-holders
- Ongoing conversations with city on that matter and they’ll continue having discussions with the city on improving logistics around Wrigley Field on game days
- Office building completed by early April
- Starbucks and team store on first-floor footprint
- Giordano’s getting full pizza kitchen at Wrigley
- Levy Restaurants getting dedicated food-prep space
- Goal to improve menu options and quality
- All work on projects outside Wrigley Field is owned and being managed by Hickory Street Development
- The plaza, the office building and Hotel Zachary
- Owned by Ricketts family
- Not financed by Cubs
Next up was Mr. Ricketts, who spent about 30 minutes answering questions. Here are a few of the more salient quotes that Tom mentioned during the interview.
On the Commissioner’s Trophy…
“The plan is to have a place for the trophy on the plaza on gamedays so that people that are coming to the game will be able to hopefully get a photo with it. We’ll see how that works out and leave it there for the season, for the most part. We just feel like the more we can get it out and the more people can have a chance to see it and get a photo with it, the better.”
On the best part of the offseason…
“It’s been such a whirlwind. There’s nothing that will ever compare to the parade. I just didn’t expect there to be as many people as there were up near Wrigley. And then Grant Park itself was people as far as the eye could see.
Otherwise, it’s just been great. Having everybody come up and say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Game 7 was the best day of my life.’ It’s really great, just to be able to pay people back.”
On pressure heading into 2017 season…
“Going into last season we knew we were good. And then, of course, we were good from Day 1 and aside from a couple weeks…we were the best team in baseball.
“So this year’s different because…the real focus will be now we know we should be in the mix and will the guys be able to handle that extra pressure or maintain their focus from a different perspective. Not as the young, hungry team who almost had it last year but the team that did it last year.
So it’ll be a different challenge, it’s a different vibe over at camp. But I think our guys have the right character and the right mindset to fire it back up. And if they get off track I’m sure Joe will make sure that gets corrected.”
On pace of play issues being raised by the Commissioner’s office…
“It’s something to keep an eye on, but I don’t think necessarily about the length of the game as much as the action in the game.
“The league has got a lot of initiatives to try to figure out how to tighten up the time frame and we’ll be very supportive of whatever they decide they want to try. So, open minded to anything that cut’s down on time for the most part it’s let’s just try to keep action in the game, more balls in play would be nice to keep it moving a little faster.
I don’t think it’s a crisis, just something we need to keep an eye on.”