Since the Ricketts took over as owners of the Cubs, not much has gone easily or without pissing a whole bunch of people off.
Their keeping of Jim Hendry and a dead roster to flail away under the guise of contending for two years pissed off a large chunk of the fanbase. Now the organizational overhaul that has required a gutting of high priced talent from the roster is pissing people off that are shocked "the kids" are pretty bad at baseball.
Of course, the ongoing attempts to procure funds from a virtually bankrupt state and/or city government has been met with derision by people who don't have a billionaire for a father, and then they managed to piss off one of the only guys in the government willing to try to make the whole deal happen by having their dad very publically funding an attempt to overthrow his friend and former boss in the White House.
About the only thing that had managed to go smoothly was the deal to build a state-of-the-art training facility in Mesa, Arizona.
Well, not so much anymore. Gary Nelson of Azcentral.com is reporting that the President of Arizona State University is none to pleased with the Cubs and how the plans for the new facility are going. ASU was supposed to share the facilties with the Cubs in what was presented as a plus for both the Cubs and for the Sun Devils' baseball program.
In theory, it all sounded great. Their current facility, Packard Stadium, is no longer serving ASU's long-term needs and partnering with the Cubs was a cheaper option than going on their own:
ASU expects to spend $4 million to $5 million to build a clubhouse as its major investment in the $99 million complex, 3 miles east of Packard at the Loops 101 and 202 junction in Mesa.
To rebuild or even remodel Packard would cost an estimated $20 million to $40 million, [ASU Vice-President for Athletics, Steve] Patterson said.
There were some lingering concerns about how much of a partnership this would be, even back in May, but everybody was putting on their happy faces and spinning away to make it just the most perfect pairing since peanut butter met jelly:
"It won't feel like you're lost in a big stadium," Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. "That's how we planned it. When you go to a Cubs game, it will feel like Wrigley (Field). When you go to an ASU game, it will feel like you're on campus. With electronics and the way it's designed, you can shift from a Cubs theme to an ASU theme, and people will be very much at home."
The fixed seats will be green rather than the Cubs' blue and red. There will be grass seating for up to 4,000 along with suites and party decks. ASU believes it could draw 10,000 or more for NCAA regional or super-regional games, harking back to the late 1970s and early '80s when Packard seated 10,000 including baseline bleachers.
Patterson also was clearly pushing hard for this partnership:
"People have an affinity for their traditions and legacies and often those are wrapped up in a physical facility," Patterson said. "It's about how you preserve that tradition. Once people get in there, they're really going to enjoy it. We'll have a great facility with great tradition and a great coach. That's what you want."
Now, only a month later, ASU is all kinds of pissed off. Their President, Michael Crow, sent an e-mail to Mesa's Mayor Scott Smith wanting to know if ASU was getting pushed out of the facility by the Cubs:
"When you and I talked about this," he told Smith, "you indicated that we might need to invest a bit more to make all the numbers work. We agreed to do that and went back to our board for their approval of our leasing terms and the new capital improvements necessary for the project to fit into the city's budget. … We were still operating under the notion that your partner operated in good faith."
"The Cubs," Crow said, "are not people of their word."
Crow asked Smith directly whether "you and the (city) council also want us out of the project, and will there be a vote of the council to that effect?"
Mayor Smith, who, just a month ago was all roses and sunshine over this deal, e-mailed Crow back:
"I share your frustration."
Smith went on to tell Crow that he had spoken directly to Tom Ricketts and expressed his displeasure, also telling Crow that he needed to stick with it because the deal was too good for both parties to allow it to fall apart.
Meanwhile, the Cubs statement sounds ominously like they don't give a damn about ASU's feelings in the grand sceme of things:
"We hope Arizona State will be part of the new spring training facility," Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. "However, our first priority is building a world-class facility for use by the Cubs year-round. This is what the voters of Mesa approved."
That's basically telling everyone that the Cubs are going to have this new facility no matter what, and ASU can either get on board or not, but it will get built. Maybe Green should send a case of those "It's Gonna Happen" signs to Crow to emphasize the point.