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Chicago approves Wrigley Field expansion plan

New Wrigley Field wall

The City Council approved a plan from the Chicago Cubs to expand the walls of Wrigley Field into Sheffield and Waveland avenues, clearing the way for more signage and bleacher party decks.

The walls of the ballpark would extend 15 feet on Sheffield Avenue and 16 feet on Waveland Avenue, with both streets losing a lane after being converted to a one-way. In addition, 58 or so parking spots would be eliminated. The new ballpark footprint would allow support for the new signage the Cubs want to erect, as well as new party decks in the back of the bleachers. In exchange, the Cubs are donating $3.75 million to a neighborhood improvement fund. (If the plan looks familiar, it’s the same thing done at Fenway Park when more Green Monster seating was added.)

This ends the city’s participation in the Wrigley Field makeover, but there are still some negotiations to come, per the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney suggested it’s time for the team to start construction after the city signed off in July and again in December on the ballpark plan.

The Cubs, however, are still engaged in talks with rooftop club owners to try to avert a lawsuit if the renovation blocks views into the ballpark. The team has indicated its reluctance to start construction only to see it tied up in the courts for years….

The team says that moving the walls back will reduce blockage of sight lines from rooftop clubs that profit from their views into the ballpark. The measure also would allow the Cubs to expand the decks at the rear of the bleachers, where they sell beer and food.

They key to putting this all together: working out a deal with the local rooftop owners, who will need to be pursuaded to set aside the existing agreement with the Cubs and enter into a new one. As usual, it’s likely to boil down to one factor: Money.

Rendering courtesy Chicago Cubs.

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