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Emanuel leads cheer for latest corporate HQ to move to Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) joined Great Wolf Resorts CEO Rubén Rodriguez and the company mascot to officially open their new Chicago headquarters. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Chicago mayors are famous for cutting ribbons. But not all ribbon-cuttings are created equal. Some come with mascots and cheerleaders.

That’s what happened Wednesday when Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Great Wolf Resorts Inc., the company that runs what it calls the “largest family of indoor waterpark resorts in North America,” to open the company’s new corporate headquarters in Chicago.

The new corporate headquarters, formerly located in Madison, Wisconsin, is at 350 N. Orleans, in the same building as the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Not that things weren’t right in Madison. But they’ll be better in Chicago. That’s how we look at it,” Emanuel said with a smile.

“I’ve done a lot of ribbon-cuttings. I’ve done a lot of corporate headquarters announcements. I’ve never once done one with a company’s own mascot. . . . This is totally new.”

Great Wolf Resorts’ CEO Ruben Rodriguez calls the office “Wolf Den Chicago.” It’s home to 45 Great Wolf Resort “pack members” and has room to grow to 100 employees to accommodate future company expansion.

That’s not a lot of jobs in the scheme of things. But it was yet another in a parade of corporate relocations to Chicago.

Shortly before the ribbon-cutting, a “pack member” persuaded a reluctant Emanuel to participate in the company’s cheer, complete with hand-clapping, foot-stomping and a wolf howl at the end.

The mayor played along with it and even gave his cheerleading teacher a high-five. But, he said, “I was prepared for a scissor-cutting.”

Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting comes one week after Great Wolf Resorts finalized its purchase of the Key Lime Cove indoor water park in Gurney. By next summer, it plans to have transformed that property into a 414-room Great Wolf Lodge Illinois.