LAKEVIEW — Finishing the Wrigley Field renovation deal with the city is critical to winning baseball games, Theo Epstein, Cubs baseball operations president, said Monday.
Speaking to reporters at the Opening Day game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Epstein refused to speak about the self-imposed Monday deadline to finish a deal to ease restrictions on the team, including night games and the posting of signs at the ballpark.
But he emphasized that finishing up a business deal is "fundamentally important to get us to the next level as an organization."
Baseball and business are intertwined, he said, and the sealing the deal is critical to the business plan.
"If we don't get a Wrigley renovation done in a timely manner — done right way — then we can't accomplish our business objectives," he said. "That will certainly get in the way of us ultimately accomplishing our baseball objectives."
Epstein has said previously that he didn't expect the team to have such a difficult time leveraging its "market size into financial advantages."
The Cubs have been looking to ease restrictions to help fund a $300 million renovation of the stadium and hoped at least "key issues" would be settled by Monday so the team could move forward on plans. But Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has refused to sign off on issues such as more night games or closing off Sheffield Avenue to be a street fair until the Cubs presented detailed plans for parking and traffic to neighbors, making a comprehensive deal by Monday unlikely.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been eager to see a deal done and said at an unrelated news conference Monday that progress has been good. All parties will announce when there is something to announce, he said.
“I believe, as I said before, there will be a time in which the fog will lift around the negotiations, and people will see what’s in front of them as a victory,” Emanuel said. “I did not set the deadline. They did."
The Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.