Among those in the audience Wednesday morning when Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts raised the possibility of moving the team from Wrigley Field was one surprised White Sox fan: Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens. "I never expected Tom to come out with that," Stephens said later in the day. Whether Ricketts' comment at the City Club of Chicago was more of a bargaining tactic than a serious threat to leave the historic North Side park remains to be seen. And even Ricketts was softening the rhetoric as the day wore on. But Stephens, who has publicly wooed the team to his largely commercial and industrial town of 2.5 square miles tucked a few feet from runways at O'Hare International Airport, is embracing the notion that the Cubs could move there. "I feel like we're a viable option," Stephens said. "When this started a few weeks ago, we were a snowball in a very warm place. Today, it's getting a little cooler." Stephens said the village could move the Cubs to land at the southwest corner of Interstate 294 and Balmoral Avenue and arrange public financing that may generate modest revenue for Rosemont in the short run but substantial returns decades later. "Would we look at that?" he said of publicly financing a Cubs stadium in Rosemont. "Hell, yeah. How do we not?" Stephens noted that "hurdles" remain in negotiations with rooftop owners around Wrigley over the Cubs' plans for advertising signs that may block some rooftop views. "There's going to be a fight here, and at what point does that issue get resolved and then there's another fight?" Stephens said. "We could build a replica of Wrigley Field with all the modern amenities." Addison Mayor Larry Hartwig can relate to Stephens. In 1986, a year before Hartwig was elected to the Village Board, he supported the Sox's effort to move the team to Addison when a deal for a Chicago stadium wasn't materializing. "I think it would have been a good thing for Addison," said Hartwig, a resident there since 1972. He noted that the location, 140 acres the team owned at Lake Street and Swift Road, is next to interstates and centrally located in the Chicago area. The location would have drawn more fans than the South Side stadium that was built next to old Comiskey Park, and the stadium would have boosted the local economy, Hartwig said. Some residents felt the Sox used Addison as a bargaining chip, although Hartwig said the team was very serious. The plan crumbled after Addison voters narrowly rejected an advisory referendum proposing to build the stadium and then-Illinois Senate Minority Leader James "Pate" Philip, of nearby Wood Dale, stirred legislative opposition. A business park occupies much of the land today.
Rosemont, other Chicago suburbs ready to play ball with Cubs if team moves
Chicago Tribune | May 2