How was your Martin Luther King Jr. Day? I hope it went better for you than it did for these people.
Let’s start with a little Cubs news, shall we? During last weekend’s Cubs Convention, the team revealed the broad strokes of their long-awaited plans to renovate Wrigley Field. The $300M project would take five years to complete, working during the offseason so as not to cost the team any home games. The renovations include ripping out the concrete in the lower seating bowl to gut and reconstruct the existing clubhouses, as well as adding underground batting cages, training and weight rooms, and generally updating the players’ facilities. They also plan to remove the roof and alter the upper deck, expanding the luxury boxes and press areas, expanding the roof deck above the marquee, widening the concourses, and expanding the concession area to ease pre- and post-game congestion in and out of the park. The team would also like add another LED scoreboard in left field (similar to the one they installed this year in right field) and add a standing room only deck above the bleachers down the third base line. You can see some early renderings of their plans here.
The plan is to accomplish all that without any public money–it sounds like they’ve officially abandoned the idea of an extra amusement tax or some other way to get the city or the state to pick up the tab. In return however, the Ricketts have asked that the city ease some of the restrictions placed on Wrigley Field under its designation as a historical landmark. The team has taken umbrage–and I believe rightly so–that the oversight of the city directly inhibits their ability to use their stadium to generate revenue. It’s a good deal for the city–rather than further wringing funds from an already cash-strapped community, they can simply ease back on the oversight and let the Ricketts’ foot the bill. And while I’m not eager to see Wrigley Field swathed in advertising, I don’t believe Tom Ricketts wants to see that either. And whether you like the plans or not, it’s nice to have an owner–one of the first in quite a while–who doesn’t have his hand out begging for money from the local government.
Speaking of money, Phil Mickelson has hinted that the new tax increases are forcing him to make some drastic changes, which he will announce later this week. Some people expect he plans to move from his home state of California, since we Californians doubled down on our tax increases this year. Others think he might be considering retirement altogether. You’ll remember it wasn’t all that long ago Mickelson was considering buying an ownership stake in the San Diego Padres–he confirmed Sunday that he backed out of the deal because of the same concerns about the changes to his tax situation.
After all my grousing in this space about the many failures of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, you can imagine how relieved I was that this past weekend saw the return of hockey and my beloved Blackhawks, who kicked off the season with not one but two convincing wins, trouncing the reigning champion Kings 5-2 after they raised their Stanley Cup banner on Saturday, and holding off the Coyotes 6-4 Sunday night. It’s legitimately hard to put into words how much I hate basketball, so the timely return of hockey is a welcome reprieve from what looked to be a bleak winter of sports.
You may remember that after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl last year, Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen made some disparaging comments about his teammates lack of effort, with one particular barb directed at receiver Wes Welker. This year, it was Welker’s wife’s turn, as she posted some criticisms of Ray Lewis on her Facebook page. Her post has since been taken down, but you can read the quotes in this article, along with the apology she issued today. Here’s the thing–I don’t understand why she had to apologize. She probably could have been more tactful or clever, and she probably shouldn’t have cited Wikipedia as a source. But she’s right that Lewis is a sketchy dude with a shady past, and it shouldn’t be out of bounds to say as much, even in the heat of a poorly chosen moment. Also, let’s congratulate her for not returning the favor and throwing Brady under the bus after another season ends with a loss.
That wasn’t the only bad news for the Patriots Sunday. During the game, New England safety Derrick Martin’s Colorado home was invaded and robbed. Several of Martin’s family and friends were gathered in his home to watch the game, and were held at gunpoint by the robbers.
Finally, keep your lemurs locked up and your loved ones out of harm’s way.