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Emanuel On Cubs' Wrigley Renovation Plan: Let's Do This

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 23, 2013 10:15PM

Photo Credit: philliefan99

Mayor Rahm Emanuel liked what he heard about the Chicago Cubs' plan to renovate Wrigley Field without a using a dime of taxpayer funding in exchange for relaxing the landmark status on the ballpark to allow for advertising billboards to be raised, more night games and street festivals to be held on Sheffield Avenue.

What Emanuel liked most about the proposal was that, for the first time, the Ricketts family isn’t asking for financial help from the city or state.

“So, we’re at a point where there will be no taxpayer subsidies for a private entity. That said, Wrigley is important to the neighborhood and to the city — or at least a part of the city that likes to go there — and I want to ensure that it continues that kind of important role that it plays in the North Side, which is why I’m also pleased that they’re also putting a hotel up. So, I asked all the parties involved to finish this up.”

The mayor allowed that details regarding the plan needed to be finalized before it could move forward. He also said that Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who had opposed previous plans offered by his administration and the Cubs on behalf of the rooftop club owners surrounding the Friendly Confines, would not get in the way of a deal getting done.

“Tom and I have been working on this for over a year. ... Tom has been a constructive and productive person in the negotiations. But he, too, will agree it’s important to see this through to the end,” Emanuel said.

Earlier this week Tunney said he would work with the Cubs on increasing the number of night games at Wrigley Field “sooner than expected” and didn’t rule out the possibility of allowing the team to erect billboards around the ballpark so they could generate revenue for Wrigley renovations. If Tunney eventually does agree to this it likely means the rooftop club owners, who turn over 17 percent of their revenue to the Cubs annually, have signed off on the plan. Rooftop club owners are still skeptical and insist a solution that allows the unfettered views of Wrigley that are the selling point of the clubs sales packages to be unimpeded can be reached.

Last April sports marketing expert Marc Ganis said the percentage of rooftop club revenue received by the Cubs pales in comparison to the money they could make with advertising and sponsorships via a relaxed landmark status.

“The 17 percent [share] the Cubs get of the money they declare is almost meaningless compared to what the Cubs could have generated on their own. But, the rooftops have somehow been given protected-species status that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet,” he said.