MESA, Ariz. _ Chicago-area reporters met with Cubs chairman Crane Kenney this morning. Among the things Crane said, and we'll have more later:
--"It will be a challenge to make Opening Day," as far as sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family goes. "The Ricketts family and the Tribune are very close to the terms of their deal, which is the first domino that needs to fall."
Because of the Trib bankruptcy, a court will have to become involved to approve the terms of the transaction. From there MLB will have to weigh in, and that should be the easy part. "There's been good progress on those two last parts even though the first part isnt quite done," Kenney said.
--At least one city in the state of Florida (perhaps Sarasota) is interesting in luring the Cubs out of Arizona for spring training. The Cubs must give Mesa notice before spring training next year in order to be able to leave after 2012, which would be an early exit of the lease. The Cubs are after a bigger and more comprehensive spring facility, one they would use year-round for their minor-league operations. Kenney said he is meeting with the mayor of Mesa today. On Tuesday, the Cubs helped the Dodgers draw a Cactus League record 13,046 at the new Dodgers-White Sox facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.
"We are the ratings leader in the Valley," Kenney said. "Whether it's TV ratings, attendance, revenue, we are, with a degree of humility, the leader in the Valley. Our obligation is to make sure we have a state of the art facility, that we have the best economics in the Valley and that we're providing a facility for our players, not just the major-league players, who spend a month here, but our minor-league players. This is bacially an 11-month operation for us."
Kenney said a new facility could conceivably be built here. HoHoKam Park is where the Cubs play Cactus League games, and Fitch Park (6 blocks south of here) is the minor-league operation. In addition to Florida, other municipalities in Arizona are interested in the Cubs, Kenney said. "People are aware, that if we were a free agent, we'd be the most desirable free agent in the market," he said.
--By Opening Day, a new sports-bar-type facility will open at Wrigley Field near the Harry Caray statue at the corner of Sheffield and Addison. The facility will be about 7,000 square feet and will enable the Cubs to compete with the bars in the area. The so-called Triangle Building, which would be just west of the ballpark building, still is on hold.
--There are no immediate plans to increase the number of night games or for the Cubs to install big-screen TVs in or around the park for baseball. The Cubs said having the JumboTrons for the January 1 Winter Classic hockey game was instructive.
--Speaking of hockey, the NHL is funding a complete resodding of the field. The Cubs installed a new drainage system last year.
The Cubs face Tim Lincecum and the Giants today. Lineup: