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City, Cubs Finally Reach A Deal On Wrigley Field Renovations

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 15, 2013 1:30PM

Photo credit: Stephanie Barto

After months of tense negotiations, the city and the Chicago Cubs are set to announce the framework for a $500 million renovation deal that will allow the Ricketts family to undertake much-needed repairs to the ballpark and develop the surrounding land without the use of taxpayer dollars, while taking into consideration concerns from the surrounding community regarding public safety, traffic congestion and, for the rooftop clubs that surround the ballpark, their views of the field.

In the end, it appears as though the Cubs received nearly everything they asked. The plan includes:

  • 1,000 free remote parking spots with a shuttle to Wrigley Field.
  • A hotel that will accommodate 175 rooms, 75 parking spaces, food and beverage, retail and a 40,000 square foot health club, and a pedestrian bridge with public access over Clark Street connecting the hotel and plaza. The Ricketts family will be permitted to construct a building at the north end of the Triangle property to house Cubs offices, a hotel meeting space and a plaza that will be managed by the team, retail shops and a kids zone. (The Cubs will be allowed to place signage along the hotel, the office building, and the plaza to accommodate significant advertising and sponsorship opportunities. Included in this sign package will be a four screen video board within the plaza that, in addition to advertising, will allow the Cubs to broadcast Cubs games and “Movies in the Plaza” for the community.)
  • Clark Street would receive new traffic lights to control game-day traffic. The Cubs will further be allowed to reconstruct the Brown Parking Lot on Eddy Street.
  • A public safety plan that will provide an additional 30 safety personnel outside Wrigley after games.
  • The Cubs will contribute to the School Street Play Lot funding effort and make annual contributions each of the next 10 years for public projects benefiting the community agreed upon by both Ald. Tunney (44th) and the club.
  • A 5,000 square foot video board in left field, as well as am 800 square foot see-through right field sign in the style of the existing Toyota sign. The Cubs will work with the city on placement of both signs to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the needs of the team.
  • Forty night games, six 3:05 Friday starts per season and four concerts per year.
  • A two-story Captain Morgan Club on Addison Street with a merchandise store and space for a visitors' clubhouse.
  • Extension of beer sales to the end of the 7th inning or 10:30 p.m., whichever comes earlier.
  • Permit the team use of Sheffield Avenue for street fairs on weekend home games between Memorial Day and Labor Day beginning two hours before a game and ending at the end of 2nd inning.
  • The City would vacate a parking lane on Waveland Avenue for the Cubs to build a new exterior wall.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts proposed the plan in January, modeled after a similar plan proposed last year by Mayor Emanuel. The lynchpin to the plan involves relaxing the landmark status on Wrigley Field so that the Cubs can leverage marketing and sponsorship opportunities to fund the renovations without taxpayer assistance.

But the plan has faced several roadblocks on its way to approval. Negotiations last year were sidetracked after reports surfaced that Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts commissioned a plan to smear President Barack Obama prior to the 2012 presidential elections. Rooftop clubs and other neighborhood groups also objected to moving forward with the plan, claiming the Cubs hadn't addressed their concerns on public safety, traffic congestion and views to the ballpark from the rooftop clubs.

The other major winner here is Emanuel, who long insisted a Wrigley renovation plan minimize the impact of taxpayers. Emanuel said in a statement to media>

“This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors. I want to thank the Ricketts family for their commitment to Chicago and commend all parties involved for making this agreement without the use of any taxpayer money. It will have a long-lasting positive effect on Chicago.”

The City and Cubs will hold a news conference later today announcing the deal.