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Big League Stew

Chicago Cubs finally gain some leverage with Rosemont ballpark proposal, will they capitalize?

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

The Chicago Cubs have long been pushing for Wrigley Field's much-needed renovations, only to be met with a lot of pushback from mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration.

It's easy to see why, of course. The Ricketts family has possessed little leverage with everyone operating under the assumption that there's no way the Cubs could ever play anywhere except the corner of Clark and Addison.

That changed on Monday, however, when David Kaplan of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago reported that Rosemont mayor Brad Stephens was willing to give the team 25 acres of property in his northwest suburb to build the team's next new home. Not only would a move to the area near O'Hare airport free the Cubs from the city of Chicago's 12 percent amusement tax, it'd open up the advertising signage possibilities that Emanuel has yet to grant on the North Side plus give plenty of room to build things like luxury boxes, restaurants and bars. Rosemont is one of the most pro-business suburbs in the entire country and the Stephens family has a getting things done, so it's not likely that we've heard the last of this deal.

Emanuel's office laughed off the possibility of the Cubs' uprooting themselves from the city, but the Ricketts finally have something they didn't before: An alternative option that's more than just an idea. If they can go out and solicit more sites from revenue-seeking suburbs — Schaumburg! Hoffman Estates! Addison! — they'll finally have some ammo to push back against Emanuel and force some kind of decision in their favor.

At some point, however, Emanuel is going to call the team's bluff and say the Cubs will never leave the beautiful park that made them a national phenomenon despite more than 100 years of title-free seasons. All of which raises the question: Do the Ricketts really have what it takes to play hardball and make it look like they'll head west on the Kennedy Expressway unless their demands for Wrigley are met?

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It's looking like we're about to find out.

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