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NPS: New outfield signage may alter historic nature of Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

The addition of five outfield signs to Wrigley Field may alter the ballpark’s historic nature, thus making renovations by the Chicago Cubs ineligible for $75 million in federal tax credits, warns the National Park Service.

The NPS and the IRS administer the historic-preservation tax credit program, which seeks to reward property owners to maintain historic buildings. The Boston Red Sox tapped tax credits during Fenway Park renovations, and the Cubs are seeking to do the same thing for Wrigley Field upgrades. From the Chicago Tribune:

But the tax credits come with conditions, and the most notable one here says the building can’t be altered to the point where it loses its historic character. And that’s coming into play here, as the Park Service warns that the outfield signage — which includes new digital scoreboards — may not fit within historic guidelines. From the Chicago Tribune:

In a memo to the Cubs obtained by the Tribune, the agency expressed concern about advertising overkill at Wrigley, which is known for its ivy-covered outfield walls, hand-turned scoreboard and intimate dimensions as opposed to typical corporate billboards at every other baseball stadium.

“It is important that the cumulative impact of new signage in the outfield does not, in itself, create such a defining feature that the historic character of the stadium is altered,” stated the memo, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request….

The Cubs are not required to get final certification of their rehabilitation plans before starting work. But the Park Service in general cautions property owners that any work begun before getting formal approval is done at their own risk of losing potential tax credits. If such work is subsequently deemed not to meet the Park Service’s standards, then the entire project may be disqualified for consideration of benefits from the federal government.

The Cubs don’t need permission from the National Park Service to make alternations to Wrigley Field. The issue here is whether the changes would endanger the ballpark’s historic nature, thus disqualifying it for $75 million in tax credits.

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