While Cubs fans sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," the mayor of Rosemont wants to take Chicago's team out of the ballpark — and into the folds of his bustling suburb.
In an exclusive interview with Comcast Sports Net Chicago, Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens said he'd like to lure the city's North Side team to the nearby suburb with the promise of a new ballpark. His big pitch? Free land.
“The Chicago Cubs are being held hostage by the neighborhood as they look to run their business," Stephens told CSN Chicago on Monday. "We are willing to offer them a tremendous opportunity if they are interested. Bring the bricks and the ivy and we can get a deal done."
Among those hostage-takers Stephens alluded to is Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) who has been sparring with the Ricketts family, the club's owners, over a renovation deal for the 99-year-old ballpark.
Stephens also pointed to the village's three percent amusement tax as a deal-sweetener, according to the Sun-Times. The team current pays a 12 percent tax in Chicago which generates $17 million annually for Chicago and Cook County.
While Stephens' deal is enticing — a 25-acre parcel of prime real estate for the club near Balmoral and the Tri-State Tollway to accomodate a new ballpark, parking and whatever else they can fit — even morning news anchors couldn't hide their smirks at the prospect of "The Rosemont Cubs."
Sports business expert Marc Ganis told Fox Chicago that while Rosemont's offer is solid and in many ways in the best interest of the team, it's no match for "the emotional connection to Wrigley Field."
The Ricketts family has issued a statement acknowledging Rosemont's offer, but maintaining their focus remains on renovating Wrigley and keeping the Cubs in their longtime home. However, even if Stephens' offer is left on the table, NBC Sports notes it may give Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts leverage in his ongoing negotiations with the city.
Rosemont, meanwhile, is not the first town to court the Cubs. Last year, DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom made Ricketts a similar offer, according to the Daily Herald. “Wrigley Field is tired," Schillerstrom said. "It needs a very substantial investment."