Years in the making, the Chicago Cubs have finally been given approval to conduct renovations to historic Wrigley Field. The upgrades, which include everything from new clubhouses, to widened concourses, to the most controversial, a new video display, will total $500 million.
SEE COMPLETE DETAILS, PLUS ALL 20 IMAGES OF THE PROPOSED WRIGLEY FIELD RENOVATION
The City Council approved the upgrade, funded entirely by the Cubs, the day after the Zoning Committee approved the deal. Along with $300 million in upgrades to Wrigley Field, the Ricketts plan on building a $200 million hotel across from the ballpark.
But, it was the new 5,700-square-foot electronic video display that was the most contentious issue, and may still pose problems. While Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney got concessions in the form of no Clark Street pedestrian bridge from the new hotel to the ballpark, and other outfield signage. The Cubs have said that to fund the improvements themselves without public assistance, the advertising revenue from the sign as critical. On the pedestrian bridge, it may spin off other key aspects. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
A Cubs source said the organization has no timeline for bringing the bridge back to the city for consideration but indicated the team would expect "some kind of a trade" in exchange for permanently scratching the bridge off its wish list.
Cubs officials have floated the idea of building a deck in right field extending all the way to the east side of Sheffield Avenue, where fans could congregate during games and people could hold events when games aren't being played. That would allow the team to move the right field sign back far enough that people on rooftops on Sheffield would be able to see over it into the park, the source said.
Another possibility would be an archway over Clark on which the team could sell advertising, the source said.
But while the deal has been signed off, questions still loom as to whether roof-top club owners may file lawsuits over the new video display. The group, which signed a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement with the Cubs when the Tribune Co. still owned the club, has voiced concerns over the matter.
"No one walks away entirely happy," Tunney said during a City Council Zoning Committee hearing. "Those of us in the political arena know that's pretty well close to a successful deal. So with the negotiations and discussions ... I can support this planned development with the protections for my neighborhood moving forward and a respectful relationship with the Cubs and the community and the city and our mayor."
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.
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