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Rooftop owners offer Wrigley Field compromise; city to discuss issue this week

Wrigley Field expansion

With rooftop bleacher owners saying they’ll compromise on the amount of signage to be installed at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs will be presenting a plan for seven new signs to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday.

The Cubs ownership want to install seven new signs, including a new videoboard and several smaller signs, past the Wrigley Field bleachers. The rooftop owners have objected, saying the signs would block the views from their businesses, and have threatened to sue over the issue.

But the threats have given way to an acceptance that some level of new signage would be acceptable, with two owners coming out with a compromise that would let the Cubs install the new videoboard and another sign — not coincidentally, the first deal offered by Cubs ownership. (The five additional signs came up later.) That compromise may not be good enough, however, as the Cubs plan on presenting a plan for all seven to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on July 10:

“We are 100 percent focused on presenting our revised expansion plan to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks,” said Cubs spokesman Julian Green. “Our construction timetable depends on getting the required approvals at that meeting so that must be our priority at this time.

“Again, we’re not prepared to lose another year and jeopardize delivering on the promises we made to our players, fans, partners and neighbors.”

New signage has been a central part of a Wrigley Field renovation plan that includes greatly expanded clubhouses (the home one would be second-largest in Major League Baseball), four additional 650-square-foot LED signs, 300 bleacher seats, a new restaurant behind the home dugout, a 2,400-square-foot videoboard in right field; new outfield lights; and relocated bullpens.

The issue lies in the original 2004 agreement between the Cubs and the rooftop owners, which called for the team to receive a portion of rooftop revenues ($4 million or so annually). The Cubs’ attorneys say a clause in the agreement allows the team to bypass the agreement and install new signage if the plan was approved by a city agency. The Cubs and rooftop owners — who, by the way, were not unanimous in their opposition to the original signage plan — negotiated for months before the team decided to move forward with a more aggressive plan.

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