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Inside Baseball

Cubs owner promotes need for new stadium.


Not everybody in the conference room of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 15 was a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago Cubs fan.

"For the record, I won't change my allegiance just to suck up," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. "I'm a Twins fan."

But Bieter was more than happy to name Aug. 15 as Chicago Cubs Day in Boise.

"If I come back every year, will I get another proclamation?" asked Tom Ricketts, chairman and owner of the Cubs.

"Absolutely," responded Bieter.

The occasion was more than a gathering of Chicago fans who echo, "Wait 'til next year," every fall (the Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945). In fact, the event was the latest effort to fan the flames for a new multi-use stadium for Boise (BW, News, "A New Field of Dreams?" June 29, 2011).

"In all honesty, the current facility here is below standard," said Ricketts, referring to Memorial Stadium in Garden City. "I've walked through the stadium. It's in bad shape."

Ricketts reminded the gathering that when the Cubs and Boise Hawks (the Cubs' Single A farm team) sit down to renew their contract in the next couple of years, an effort moving toward a new facility "will be an important factor."

Todd Rahr, president and general manager of the Hawks, said there were only three Major League baseball brands recognized around the world--the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs. Rahr made it clear that he didn't want Yankee pinstripes anywhere near the Hawks logo.

"I couldn't stomach that," he said to a room full of laughter.

Ricketts, whose family purchased the Cubs in 2009, reminded Boiseans that the Hawks have very close ties to the Cubs.

"Eight players in our current Chicago clubhouse have played for the Hawks," said Ricketts. "Half of our Triple A club [in Iowa] have played in Boise, and I'd say most of our Double A team [in Tennessee] have played here."

The Better Boise Coalition, the group behind the stadium effort, continues to solicit support for the stadium, asking individuals and businesses to contribute to the Boise Metro Chamber Stadium Account. Suggested amounts in its brochure range from $500 to $2,000, though it also has a spot for "other," where potential donors can write in their own figure.