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Rahm Wrigley Renovation Plan Involves Relaxing Landmark Status

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 16, 2012 1:30PM

Photo Credit: philliefan99

Visitors to Wrigley Field may soon see a Jumbotron in right field, enter the ballpark by passing through "Wrigleyville: Home of the Cubs" arches sponsored by advertisers and see Sheffield and Waveland Avenues closed to street fairs on game days under a plan proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help the Cubs raise money to renovate the Friendly Confines without placing the burden on taxpayers.

The Sun-Times, citing sources, says the lynchpin of the plan involves relaxing Wrigley Field's landmark status, which would pave the way for the club to raise as much as $150 million in revenue from advertisers and sponsorships from the stadium and surrounding streets. The plan also calls for more concerts and non-baseball sporting events such as football games.

Emanuel privately calls the proposal his "Fenway plan," after the similar plan used in Boston to renovate Fenway Park. The plan may clash with traditionalists, but Emanuel has repeatedly said that any plan to renovate Wrigley would be in the best interests of the taxpayers. The more money the Cubs can generate to place back into the renovations, the less public money will be needed for the plan. Sports marketing expert Marc Ganis, who is familiar with the plan, told the Sun-Times it's a sound proposition.

“The Cubs have been operating at a real disadvantage. They have not been able to even approach maximizing revenue from advertising and signage in the building. They are tens of millions of dollars below where they should be if they could operate the way the White Sox do.”

44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, said nothing concrete has been reached regarding a renovation agreement. “My job is to be very respectful of the taxpayers and the overall quality of life for our residents here. Those are the people who put me in office,” Tunney said.

Gov. Pat Quinn echoed sentiments that tax dollars not be used for renovating Wrigley Field. During an appearance on WLS-AM's "Don & Roma Show" last week, Quinn said the state's budget situation has made it impossible for Illinois to help the Cubs.

"Our State has severe fiscal challenges so the very idea of the State of Illinois spending millions and millions of dollars on Wrigley Field, I don't think that's in the cards at all. They bought the team and they should make the lion's share of the investment to fix up the park.