President of business operations Crane Kenney said Saturday he’s optimistic the Cubs can land the All-Star Game in 2020, the year construction at Wrigley Field is expected to be finished. But that doesn’t mean it’s close to a done deal.
‘‘The city wants it; we want it,’’ Kenney said, addressing a topic raised annually during Cubs Convention weekend. ‘‘But we’ve got to convince [Major League Baseball commissioner Rob] Manfred that we’ve earned it. It’s a little bit of politics. He has a very open mind to Wrigley getting the All-Star Game at some point, and we’re working very closely with the city.’’
It’s that work with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office that seems to be the biggest source of Kenney’s optimism.
The Cubs have tried for close to a year to persuade the city to allow security-related game-day street closures of Clark and Addison next to the ballpark. Security around the ballpark is a central issue with MLB when it comes to awarding an All-Star Game to Wrigley, Kenney said.
‘‘And then we still have to solve a few other things that are more procedural around the ballpark,’’ he said.
Asked whether terrorist truck attacks in Europe in recent months have made the city more receptive to street closures, Kenney said: ‘‘Put it this way: The conversations have gotten real. The theoretical risk of maybe three or four years ago has become very practical.
‘‘You look at what happened [last month] in Berlin, and you look at what happened right
after that attack, which was
that the Christmas market in Chicago all of a sudden [had] barriers.’’
The Jake question
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein told fans he expects the Cubs to ‘‘take a stab’’ at signing 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta to a contract extension before he reaches free agency at the end of the season.
‘‘We love Jake,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘We’d love him to be around for a long time. But it’s not the first time that a talented core player’s gone into the last year of his deal. It won’t be the last time. It doesn’t always mean the player’s leaving.
‘‘He knows how we feel about him. Years and dollars are always complicated, but I’m sure we’ll take a stab at it.’’
The Cubs are holding a contest to find 20 fans to hand championship rings to the players during their ring ceremony
April 12 at Wrigley. Winners also will get two tickets to the game.
Contestants must be nominated for selection through 60-second videos. Judging criteria and other details can be found at cubs.com.
This and that
The Cubs won’t have replica rings made for season-ticket holders, but a replica-trophy giveaway is part of the 2017 promotional schedule.
† In addition to the ring ceremony before their second home game, the Cubs plan a World Series banner-raising ceremony for the home opener April 10.
† The start of the 2017 season will mark the end of an era at Wrigley. Chairman Tom Ricketts said the Cubs, one of the last four major-league teams with bullpens on the field, will finish the long-planned move of the bullpens to underneath the bleachers. He said the change is for the safety of the players.
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