Chicago Mayor Says City in “Final Stages” of Wrigley Renovation Deal

Well this kind of came out of nowhere, though I’m sure it would be nice to announce around Opening Day.

The Chicago Cubs have, for the better part of a year and a half, actively been seeking out financial assistance from the city of Chicago (as well as the state of Illinois) to help fund a badly-needed renovation of Wrigley Field. Various plans have been shot down, primarily as politically infeasible (it ain’t a great time to ask for public money, no matter how you phrase it or how you tie it to the betterment of the community), but it now sounds like the Cubs might be getting somewhere with the city.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today said that the city was in the “final stages” of negotiating a deal with the Cubs, which would theoretically open the door for the franchise to begin renovating Wrigley Field, according to quotes in the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve had good conversations,” Emanuel said.

At issue is not only where the funds for the renovation will come from – amusement tax growth, tax abatements, some kind of public bond, etc. – but also what limitations will be placed on the public money. Specifically, if the Cubs accept public money to renovate Wrigley Field, will they be permitted to use $200 million of their own money to finally get to work on the Triangle Building project (which would add office space for the team, additional workout facilities, merchandise areas, and more)?

Emanuel wouldn’t comment on specifics, but it doesn’t sound like the two projects going hand-in-hand is a sure thing.

“I’ll represent the taxpayers in whatever we do to enhance the value at Wrigley Field,” Emanuel said. “I will not put my money in their field so they can take their money and invest around the field.”

It’s hard to know for sure whether Emanuel was saying a project like the Triangle Building is a no-go. After all, I would argue that the facilities installed there would make it more like a part of the Wrigley Renovation than an entirely separate project (indeed, there could even be a skywalk physically connecting the building to Wrigley Field).

Perhaps if the Ricketts Family is willing to kick in some of the money for the Wrigley renovation, itself, they will be permitted to get to work on the Triangle Building, as well.

As is often the case with politically-engineered solutions, the final answer here could be both imperfect and distant. Emanuel’s comments came at an unrelated event today, and the Cubs declined to elaborate or confirm that anything was close. So, it’s possible that we’ll once again go for a healthy stretch without hearing much.

But at least signs are pointing in a positive direction.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

31 responses to “Chicago Mayor Says City in “Final Stages” of Wrigley Renovation Deal”

  1. PoopyPants McGee

    its good to finally have a mayor who cares about the one true baseball team that generates revenue for the city.

  2. hcs

    And the Cubs didn’t even have to threaten to move to Florida…

  3. Clark Addison

    So why did you guys re-elect a Sox fan year after year after year?

    1. hardtop

      um, you truly do not understand Chicago politics.  no one elected Daley, he chose to be mayor.  the only reason there is a different mayor is because Daley chose not to be the mayor any longer.

      1. Ferrets bueller

        Dis. Dis is true.

  4. die hard

    Unless the owners are willing to give 51% ownership to the City until all monies are paid back from any loan, Id say pound sand

    1. hansman1982

      and how would that be any different to what the masses of BN said to the trolls of BN over the past 6 months?

  5. BFM

    I like the talks about renovating Wrigley. Sounds good!
    I don’t understand how accepting public money would put the Triangle project in jeopardy?
    I think I am missing some info. Can someone explain this.

  6. Kevin

    I understand why people want the triangle building, if, and only if, the framework of the existing Wrigley Field doesn’t change. If, however, a whole new stadium is built (foul pole to foul pole only of course) then maybe the triangle building isn’t necessary.

  7. BeyondFukudome

    The Triangle Building is an integral part of a Wrigley renovation that would vastly increase the overall value of the stadium and its value for the community. If the mayor cannot grasp this, then he’s an idiot.

  8. Jay Anderson Jr

    I’m totally against public funding for any stadium projects or renovation. I don’t live in Chicago, so its not my battle. I don’t understand how its the tax payers job to fund a building for a non government own company. I hope Wrigley’s gets renovated, but I hope the Ricketts, or their own investors front the whole bill.

    1. BeyondFukudome

      Public officials who enter into these kinds of funding arrangements do not do so in order to enrich professional sports moguls. They do it because they think that improving the stadium and/or promoting the increased success of the team in question is a worthwhile investment for their community. If you are categorically opposed to all such deals, then your position would appear to be motivated by inflexible ideological considerations, rather than by what would be good for the Cubs.

      1. Jay Anderson Jr

        Sports come second when it come to government spending. It not about the team, it about what’s the right thing to do with the money.

    2. Kyle

      99% of the time I’d agree.

      But if government doesn’t want to pay for renovations, they need to remove the landmark status. It can’t be Ricketts’ stadium when it’s time to pay for it, and society’s when it’s time to decide how it is maintained.

      1. MaxM1908

        Well said, Kyle. I’ve always had that same opinion.

      2. Jay Anderson Jr

        I agree 1000% percent. If it is Ricketts stadium, he should be able to do with it what he pleases. If he wants to blow it up, so be it. It’s his.

      3. Pat

        The Cubs wanted the landmark status. It was a part of turning Wrigley into a tourist attraction theme from the 80s. Don’t pretend it was forced on the them. And it doesn’t effect anything on the grandstand side, except the marquee, which can be taken down and put back up.

  9. notcubbiewubbie

    man o man why do the cubs always have to kiss political butt to do something to the team and business they own. get smart and tell them if you don’t get what you want you will build a new ballpark somewhere else. like i have said before they say wrigley field is a shrine yea so is the alamo. maybe we acn bring back santa anna to solve the cubs problems. i will duck after i post this .know i will get hammered.

  10. Vinestal

    The city makes millions of dollars in tax revenue off the Cubs and Wrigley field, if it weren’t for that fact I’d be against “public” funding as well. it’s mutually beneficial for them to assist funding a remodel. it should have happened years ago.

    1. DocWimsey

      Even if Ricketts funded it “out of pocket,” my guess is that the deductions he would be able to claim would amount to public funding in the end. It’s like FDR said, really…..

  11. Dave H

    What I do not understand is we have an amusement tax or something like that when tickets are purchased. Where does this money go? They dropped 600 million for a RENOVATION of soldier field. The south side got an entirely new stadium. United Center also. Why can’t they get some money from that special tax to at least help. If everyone else in this stinkin’ town can get money for their stadiums then Ricketts has every right to ask for his fair share. I wouldn’t blame ricketts for pulling up and head out to the burbs. Cubs fans are probably the biggest contributors to that fund and we get the shaft.

    1. JB88

      United Center was privately funded by the various owners of the Bulls and the Wirtz family. Soldier Field is owned by the City and leased to the Bears. Comisky is the only true aberration and that, if memory serves, was mainly funded by a state-run organization. So slightly different circumstances all around, but the gist is the same — the City should not be taking money out of the Cubs’ pockets (amusement tax) but also restricting building (landmark designation) and refusing to play some role in funding a stadium that’s use brings in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the City yearly and also creates huge additional job growth for the bars and restaurants in that neighborhood.

  12. FromFenwayPahk

    Most “investments” of public money on sports venue projects are losers for the public. But, Wrigley is special. It is a vacation destination (bean counters will rejoice) and an important face of your city (poets will rejoice). Your current mayor seems to come from the school that can assemble the stakeholders and make the compromises between them that will create wins all around. Ideologues may be they only ones dissapointed as a plan is developed and gets phased in.

  13. Roughriider

    I wonder if there is a way for the Cubs to sell shares of Wrigley Field. I’m sure there are a lot of fans that would love to have a certificate saying they are one of the owners of Wrigley Field.

  14. SouthSideCubFan21

    I live in Bridgeport, and it was told to me by people who would know that the Cubs will be playing at the Cell in 2013. I heard that the employees at the Cell were told in confidence that to be ready for a long 2 team baseball season at the park. I love Wrigley, but it would be great for us southside Cub fans to be able to walk to games for a year. Some Sox fans that I was talking about it with laughed and said it would probably be the year that they would win the series. I told them I didn’t care if they won on my kids little league field around the corner from me, I just want them to win!!!!!!!!!

  15. SouthSideCubFan21

    I don’t know if it is true either, but I know the people that were telling me this are 11th ward workers as well as some pretty high level workers at the cell. It would make sense too because the state owns that park, and would get some pretty good cash for the year. The only problem is that it would kill the businesses in Wrigleyville for a year, and I figure the Cubs wouldn’t want to do that. This is going to be major rehab so I just find that it will be hard to not close the park to do it. Also, I thought the Cubs were going to try and get the 2014 Allstar game because of it being the 100th yr of Wrigley so they would need to get it done next year??????????

  16. FromFenwayPahk

    All of Fenway’s reconstruction is done in the off season. And it was nearly ALL reconstructed (save the crummy right field seats that still face the wrong way). There is no reason to shut down a ball park. It just has to be done in well coordinated, planned phases.

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