Levine: Cubs Owner Ricketts Declares Team Is On Road To World Series
By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) In an open letter to season-ticket holders, Cubs chairman of the board Tom Ricketts declared that the team and its "three-phase program" are on the road to success.
The missive and a thank-you video from the people who work for the Cubs were delivered Tuesday via email to the 25,000 season-ticket holders.
Ricketts proudly pointed out in the first paragraph that 2014 was a major stepping stone to the future of the baseball and business plan for the Cubs. He stated these elements "will save Wrigley Field."
The team has been infused with major talent on the field that has been affirmed by minds all across the game. Along with player development and facility improvements, that talent acquisition makes up the team's core mission.
"The 2014 season has served as an inflection point for each of the three areas," Ricketts said. "These things will move us toward our primary goal of winning the World Series."
The letter and four separate live theater performances/rallies with Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein for season-ticket holders this weekend is part of a sales campaign. This plan is to get season-ticket holders committed to buying their seats now.
In the beginning stages of a $575 million rehab of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, the Cubs sent out season-ticket renewals 30 days sooner this year. This sales approach was conceived in order to help stabilize the front office's projections for offseason ticket sales and revenue for 2015. A 10 percent payout by season-ticket holders is due by Friday. If that deadline isn't met, season-ticket holders risk losing their seat locations for 2015.
As pointed out by Ricketts, the Cubs have one of the highest-rated farm systems in baseball. On the field, the team has much to prove, having had a losing record in all five years that the club has been owned by the Ricketts family. During that span since the Ricketts family acquired the team from Sam Zell and his Tribune ownership partners, the Cubs have been at break-even or better in the standings for just seven days.
"I believe 2014 will be viewed as a critical turning point for the future," Ricketts said in his letter.
Not mentioned in the letter was the lawsuit filed by the Cubs' rooftop partners. Those owners hope to block the addition of as many as seven outfield signs that can be affixed to the back of the newly renovated Wrigley Field bleachers in 2015. Ricketts does point out the construction process, though.
"Our $575 million construction is on the way," he said. "The main elements that you have always loved will remain, while much-needed improvements are on the way and will make the ballpark a better place to play and watch."
Charitable activities such as contributing $250,000 to the city of Chicago's $6.5 million youth baseball program were also pointed out by Ricketts. The franchise also put $1 million into a park on School Street (in Lakeview near Wrigley) that will be named for Margaret Donahue, the Cubs executive secretary in the 1920s through the early 1960s.
"We are building something special from top to bottom," Ricketts said to complete his message to the season-ticket holders. "The plan is starting to unfold. Major League competitive baseball in back on the North Side."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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