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Ald. Tunney: Replace Wrigley Scoreboard With Video Screen [UPDATE]

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 20, 2013 2:10PM

Photo credit: Mattheuxphoto

Here’s news for those of you with any lingering doubts on whether 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney is acting in the interests of Wrigleyville rooftop club owners in negotiations for Wrigley Field renovations. Tunney has proposed the ballclub replace the hand-operated scoreboard in center field — which is protected by the ballpark’s landmark status — with a video scoreboard.

The Sun-Times, citing sources close to the negotiations, said Tunney has repeatedly made the suggestion so that rooftop clubs won’t have their view blocked by any signage the Cubs would erect, if the city approves the Cubs’ proposal to relax landmark status to finance renovations to the ballpark. On the bright side: We now know that Tunney is open to relaxing landmark status — as long as his most reliable campaign contributors are protected.

Tunney was quoted by one source as saying the Cubs could make a video scoreboard as big as they want. But altering the scoreboard, if not removing it completely, would be tantamount to a civic riot for the Wrigley faithful. Ricketts family spokesman Dennis Culloton said altering the iconic scoreboard, one of the “historic elements” cited by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks when they granted Wrigley Field landmark status in 2004, is not part of the Cubs’ renovation plans.

What the Cubs do have in the works are plans for a video scoreboard in left- or right-field, once the proposal moves forward. As for blocking the view of Wrigley from the rooftops, Landmarks Illinois president Bonnie McDonald told the Sun-Times a precedent was already set for a compromise with the Toyota sign. “We believe there is a design solution that can be found that would accommodate the revenue-generating needs of the Cubs without demolishing the historic scoreboard,” McDonald said.

2:10 p.m. Update: Tunney released a statement that said the suggestion to replace Wrigley Field's scoreboard with a video version was "discussed in earnest by all parties and dismissed." The full statement is below.

"Negotiations are ongoing with the Chicago Cubs. As Alderman, I know the importance of preserving and renovating historic Wrigley Field in our community.

"The Cubs, the administration and I have had many meetings where creative solutions have been offered that could satisfy the community and the Cubs organization. Moving the scoreboard to left field, where a similar one existed until the 1930?s, and replacing it with a video board it is just one of the many ideas that have been on the table. It was discussed in earnest by all parties and dismissed.

"Overall, the discussions have been positive and conversations with the team continue. We all hope that solutions can be reached that are in keeping with the character of the community and the desires of the Cubs."