Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts donates $25,000 to Bill Daley
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Cubs board member Todd Ricketts was so incensed by marathon negotiations with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that preceded the renovation of Wrigley Field, he suggested moving the team out of Chicago.
Now, the billionaire Ricketts family has apparently chosen a horse in the crowded race to replace Emanuel: Bill Daley.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has donated $25,000 to the Daley campaign, joining a parade of business leaders who have made Daley the runaway winner in the mayoral fundraising sweepstakes with more than $5 million raised so far.
Daley’s next closest competitor in the money race is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, with just over $3 million, most of it from the Service Employees International Union and the union’s affiliates. SEIU is one of the unions with an ownership stake in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The donation from Ricketts came rolling in as part of, yet another $200,000 money drop reported by the Daley campaign.
Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the Ricketts family, could not be reached for comment about the decision to back Daley.
Peter Cunningham, a spokesman for the Daley campaign, would only say that the brother and son of Chicago mayors was happy to have the Ricketts donation.
Last month, private emails published by Splinter and then discussed in more detail in a Deadspin article detailed the enmity between the Ricketts family and Emanuel.
The Deadspin story claimed Todd Ricketts, a leading Republican fundraiser once slated for a top spot in President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce, was furious with Emanuel in 2013.
That’s when the mayor rejected the Cubs’ request for a taxpayer subsidy to renovate Wrigley, forcing the team to go it alone.
According to Splinter and Deadspin, Todd Ricketts forwarded a story about Emanuel’s refusal to his father Joe with a blistering comment attached.
“I think we should contemplate moving, or at least recognize that we are maybe not the right organization to own the Cubs,” Todd Ricketts wrote.
That was followed by yet another Todd Ricketts email trashing Emanuel without mentioning the mayor by name.
“I just hate the thought of [Cubs Chairman] Tom [Ricketts] having to grovel to this guy to put money into a building we already own,” Todd Ricketts reportedly wrote.
Family patriarch Joe Ricketts replied, “Yes Todd, it makes me sad, it hurts my feelings to see Tom treated this way. He is way superior to the Mayor in every way. I have been brought up to deplore the type of value system adopted by the Mayor of Chicago. This is stating it mildly.”
At the time, Culloton acknowledged the veracity of what he called the “private stolen emails.”
“Reading those private stolen emails is a reminder that there was an arduous process at the time as the debate went on, how best to save Wrigley Field,” Culloton said then.
“But, in the end, the Ricketts family and Mayor Emanuel came together and 1,000 union men and women of the construction trades have been hard at work preserving Wrigley Field for future generations. And the family has invested $1 billion in the neighborhood and $400 million into those union wages.”
Just how seriously did the Ricketts family consider leaving Chicago?
“It was definitely considered. There was discussion about that at the time. Tom made mention of it at a City Club speech,” Culloton said.
Emanuel’s communications director, Shannon Breymaier, said the now-outgoing mayor told Ricketts in 2013 “the same thing he told the owners of the Hawks and the Bulls.”
That is, “You own it, you pay for it.”
She added: “Negotiations can sometimes be heated, but the end result here was good for both the city and the Cubs.”
Ironically, Wrigleyville residents have accused Emanuel of going too far by giving the Cubs the go-ahead to put up two video scoreboards, four other outfield signs, extend the Wrigley footprint onto public streets and sidewalks without compensating Chicago taxpayers, and play more night games.
At Emanuel’s behest, the City Council also approved the Cubs’ ambitious plan to develop the land around Wrigley Field with a hotel, an office building and open-air plaza with even more signs.
Earlier this month, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley, accused the Ricketts family of targeting him — and trying to elect a puppet alderman in his place — to pave the way for a “Disneyland” agenda that will make life miserable for Wrigleyville residents.