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Emanuel Throws Shade On Cubs Revised Wrigley Renovations

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 29, 2014 9:20PM

Image credit: Chicago Cubs

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is previously on record saying the Cubs plan to renovate Wrigley Field should have already been in progress, said the Cubs’ revised plan needs to pass muster with his handpicked Landmarks Commission first, and that won’t happen until the Cubs run details of the new elements of the plan past him.

Emanuel specifically cited renderings that showed the Wrigley Field bullpens to areas underneath the bleachers and an expansion of the Cubs clubhouse to 30,000 square feet in space and said these were wrinkles that hadn’t been seen before.

“At my direction, Ald. [Pat] O’Connor was meeting with the rooftop industry as well as the owners of Wrigley for months trying to work through the issue and there are things….he said he had not seen before. So this is not ready for next week and they have work to do,” the mayor said.

“In all the meetings Pat O’Connor had or with Planning, nobody ever saw that [plan to relocate the bullpens]. It was first seen yesterday. That’s why you don’t take something that’s been there for 100 years and just try to rush it in a week…This recent submission is not ready for next week and there won’t be a meeting or a hearing on it [by the Landmarks Commission] because there’s new things that have been submitted.”

Astute readers may remember Tuesday Cubs vice president of business operations Crane Kenney saying the ballclub worked with the Emanuel administration to put this new plan together. With rooftop club owners and surrounding neighbors already complaining about the amended renovation proposal, either Emanuel is stepping away from a potential political hot potato with an election looming next year or the Cubs overstepped their bounds. Either way, the Chicago National League Ballclub would be best served by shunting Kenney off to the kiddie table and let people who actually know how to negotiate with the city and other interests hammer down the details. After all, it was Kenney who helped negotiate the 20-year revenue sharing deal with the rooftops that have led to the Cubs’ ongoing comedy of errors in getting this renovation plan off the ground.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the club is “happy to address any questions about the bullpen doors or the bullpen relocation. The Cubs look forward to resolving these last few issues so we can begin construction as soon as possible.”

Emanuel said the Cubs and rooftops need to consider renewing negotiations, even though neither side has budged since City Council approved the original renovation plan last year.

“They spent more than a year at it with each other. I understand the desire for resolution. I think that’s shared by all parties…There’s no doubt that a lot of people put a lot of work and a lot of effort into this. That doesn’t mean that they got it right… I do think there’s a place…to land this where the owners are allowed to modernize Wrigley Field, invest in the surrounding neighborhood in things like parks, playgrounds, traffic, security that have been shortchanged in the past and do it in a way that meets everybody’s objectives.”