Attention Tea Partying Cubs fans:
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is asking the state of Illinois to help finance more than $200 million in renovations at Wrigley Field.
In a letter to season ticket holders and Wrigleyville residents, Ricketts said the Illinois General Assembly will be considering a bill to preserve Wrigley Field. The plan will allow a portion of future city and county amusement taxes, paid entirely by Cubs fans, to be invested directly in the preservation of the ballpark. A bill is being drawn up that will be considered in the veto session that begins next week .
Ricketts’ letter said “it will not increase taxes paid by Cubs fans or anyone else and will not create any new taxes.”
I guess technically speaking it won’t increase or create taxes. But those amusement taxes that will be used are already being used to fund some other projects, and moving them to fix up Wrigley Field will necessarily drain those other projects of revenue. Projects that, as far as I can tell, aren’t currently designed to enhance the Cubs’ income streams the way a renovated Wrigley would.
Ricketts’ model for the Wrigley renovations — which are needed, I fully admit — are the Fenway Park renovations that have gone down over the past four or five years. Query: were those funded by public monies, or did Fenway Sports Group pay for that? I believe the latter. I’m going to double check that, but if anyone knows off the top of their head, please let me know and I’ll update.
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.