Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

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By GORDON WITTENMYER (follow @GDubCub on Twitter)

PITTSBURGH - As the Cubs prepared for their season opener in Pittsburgh early Monday, team president Theo Epstein kept one eye on happenings back home related to an even more pressing issue: the April 1 deadline ownership set for getting a deal in place with city and neighborhood officials to lift restrictions in and around the ballpark they say is needed to start $300 million in Wrigley Field renovations on time.

As counterintuitive as it may seem for a big-market franchise like the Cubs, the baseball operations people are well aware that their ability to spend and compete long-term under Ricketts family ownership relies on the family being able to increase its already sizeable revenues.

"I think it's fundamentally important to get us to the next level as an organization," Epstein said before Monday's game. "We have a baseball plan, and we have a business plan, and they're timed to sync up with one another.

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