Chicago Cubs fans who love Wrigley Field's name and historic character will find their passions protected by the state if it swings a deal to buy the North Side ballpark from Tribune Co., former Gov. James Thompson said Wednesday.I sometimes frown at governmental involvement with sports stadiums of course that's just me. Wrigley Field isn't exactly a public good and it's certainly not excludable. I may not be using those technical terms correctly but you still have to go inside and to do that you have to buy tickets, the price of admission. A public good that isn't excludable to me whould be building a stadium not much different than the one that was supposed to be built in Lincoln Park where a certain private school can call home, however, other people can use the field since it is a public park.
"We certainly would want the name to stay Wrigley," said Thompson, who is chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the state/city agency that is in negotiations to purchase the park.
Asked whether the authority would sell partial naming rights so that the Wrigley Field name would be linked to another corporate moniker, he said, "I presume there are people out there who think so highly of Wrigley Field that they would want to be associated with it and therefore would be willing to pay for that privilege.
"But I have no deals, I haven't heard of any deals," he said. "We would have to test the marketplace."
Thompson reiterated that the authority is proposing to acquire and renovate the aging ballpark without using tax dollars, and he said the renovation would not disturb the park's historic integrity.
"Our objective is to respect the landmark ordinance and to keep the iconic nature and historic nature of Wrigley Field," he said. "So when we're all said and done, I would expect the preservation community to be in favor of our plans and to strongly support them."
Thompson made his remarks late Wednesday afternoon after a special meeting of the IFSA board, where he gave an update on the status of negotiations during a closed-door session. The authority owns and operates U.S. Cellular Field.
I understand that Wrigley's infrastructure isn't doing that great these days and it's in need of renovation. In fact during the offseason they did change the field installing new draining systems as well as install new turf. Still I would just as soon hope that a private owner can do to Wrigley whatever the state can do with it.