Now that the Chicago City Council has approved a $500-million makeover of Wrigley Field, the big question is when the five-year project will commence after Tom Ricketts demands cooperation from local rooftop owners.
The passage was unanimous today for the Cubs to make over Wrigley Field with a revamped upper deck, widened concourses, additional restaurants and concessions, new clubhouses and a new videoboard. There are some other complicated parts of the final deal: the Cubs asked to extend the ballpark onto Sheffield Avenue an additional right feet — taking out a lane of traffic and moving signs back to allow a better view for rooftop owners. In exchange, the Cubs agreed to forgo any additional signs for 10 years, provided rooftop-bleacher owners agreed not to sue the team over any new signage.
It was a serious display of Chicago-style politics at its best, the raw horse-trading you rarely see on the national level these days. Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents Wrigleyville and has been a thorn in the side of the Ricketts family, pushed on important neighborhood demands (more parking, more police, limits on night games) and retreated on others (we’re guessing the rooftop owners are not pleased with him at the moment). Similarly, Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to consider any city funding for Wrigley Field improvements but was set to get into place a deal where the Cubs could make money as part of the renovation, including the installation of a videoboard. At the end, there is enough in the deal for all involved to declare victory.
Still, there are some details to be finalized — like a deal with the rooftop-bleacher owners.
But in exchange for that moratorium they are demanding that the rooftop owners agree not to sue over blocked views during the remaining 10 years of the revenue-sharing agreement. They also want city assurances that the rooftop rules on capacity, liquor sales and hours be enforced and to get some “certainty” over what happens when the revenue sharing agreement expires.
In the past, the rooftop owners have said they would sue if their views were blocked. On Wednesday they declined comment….
Despite those remaining issues, the Cubs, Emanuel and Tunney heralded the deal as something of a breakthrough, one that would end up pouring $300 million into the aging ballpark and $200 million into the development just west of it.
In theory, work could begin on the renovations this September, should a deal with the rooftop-bleacher owners be reached.
By the time construction on everything is done — including a new 175-room hotel with a health club, a six-story office building and an open-air plaza — the Cubs will have 35,000 square feet of ad inventory on the new buildings and an expanded Captain Morgan club at the ballpark.
Renderings courtesy Chicago Cubs. Top: A new building at Sheffield and Addison. Bottom: Public ice skating at the new plaza.
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