President Obama, the Ricketts family and Wrigley Field

May 18, 2012

Is the Ricketts family of Chicago bipolar? The patriarch, billionaire and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, blasted onto the national stage yesterday, when the New York Times reported that his super PAC considered running an ad campaign entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.” His super PAC, the Ending Spending Action Fund, also lobbies against excessive federal spending and special-interest earmarks.

Meanwhile Ricketts’s son Tom, the general chairman of the Cubs, has been lobbying Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and President Obama’s former chief of staff, for $150 million in tax revenues to renovate Wrigley Field, the home of his family’s Major League Baseball team. The irony of Joe Ricketts blasting the president for special-interest spending while his son grovels for taxpayer support to renovate his baseball stadium is enormous. The Ricketts family needs to meet around their kitchen table and get this matter worked out, because it makes both the father and son look clueless.

Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business has the local scoop:

Did the Ricketts family just knee-cap its own plan to rebuild Wrigley Field with a healthy dose of Chicago taxpayer cash?

My phone has been ringing with just that question this morning in the wake of a stunning New York Times story about how a new super PAC headed by Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the Chicago Cubs’ owning family, is pondering a big, especially nasty ad campaign against President Barack Obama this fall.


The Chicago angle on this is that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s former chief of staff, has been trying to put together a deal for the city to put $100 million or more in tax incentives into a Wrigley [stadium] rebuild.

The Wall Street Journal discussed the proposed renovation of Wrigley Field, for which Tom Ricketts wants taxpayer money:

Proposals include more premium seating near the field; a Jumbotron; a new building along Clark Street that could contain a restaurant, parking, and hall of fame; and game-day street fests open only to ticket-holders.

The father’s advocacy group, Ending Spending, describes itself like this:

Ending Spending, Inc. is dedicated to educating and engaging American taxpayers about wasteful and excessive government spending. In this troubled economy, now is the time to regain control of federal government spending, balance the budget, pay down the national debt, and restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C.

Emanuel needs to close the door on any appeals from the Ricketts family for taxpayer support for Wrigley Field. Chicago is in the midst of a massive infrastructure push to build and improve schools, mass transit, and sewer and water lines. In this troubled economy now is the time for Emanuel to regain control of city spending, balance his budget, pay down the city’s debt and restore fiscal responsibility to Chicago. Say no to special interests, Mayor Emanuel.

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