Ricketts: Cubs considering selling minority shares
CHICAGO -- Want to invest in the Cubs? Owner Tom Ricketts said Friday they are considering selling minority shares in the team to help finance the $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area.
"Any time you're looking at privately financing a big project like this, you're going to look at all your different sources of potential financing," Ricketts said prior to the Cubs' home opener. "We're going to take a look at whether or not it makes sense to bring in outside investors."
The shares would be non-controlling and shareholders would join the Tribune Co. as investors in the team. The Tribune Co. kept a 5 percent stake in the Cubs after it sold the franchise to the Ricketts in 2009.
"Most teams are owned by dozens of investors," Ricketts said. "It's unusual for anyone to own 95 percent of the team. We'll look at whether or not that fits for us. It is non-controlling minority shares."
Ricketts said the process is in the initial stages and "just an option for us."
The Cubs had hoped to begin the renovations this past offseason on the ballpark, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. However, all work has been delayed while the Cubs deal with objections from the surrounding rooftop owners regarding additional signage in the outfield.
There were plans to have a see-through advertising sign in right field on Opening Day, but the only addition was a Weber ad on one of the outfield doors.
"We'll take that day by day," Ricketts said of the new signage.
He was optimistic the team could get something done with the rooftop owners and avoid litigation.
"The key is to keep moving forward and keep talking," Ricketts said. "I expect something will work for us -- we'll figure it out."
The original plan had been for the renovations to be completed over five offseasons, but Carl Rice, vice president of ballpark operations, said Friday they could get the work done in four.
"We have looked at the schedule, and collapsed it to four years as long as we can start at certain periods of time," Rice said. "If we get delayed it's a little more problematic."
Rice said if they start this October, the goal would be to complete the project by Opening Day 2018.