At last check, there was a fair bit of understandable political intransigence when it comes to offering public funding for a renovation of Wrigley Field, which could cost more than $300 million. Those struggles have led to the Chicago Cubs, the Mayor’s Office, and other interested parties working behind the scenes to provide ways for the Cubs to raise some of the necessary funding on their own.
But that doesn’t mean the City of Chicago isn’t going to chip in some funding. According to Tribune sources, the current plan being discussed would provide the Cubs with $150 million in funding from the growth in amusement taxes on Chicago Cubs tickets. The other $150 million would come from the Cubs, but the team would have some help in raising that money, as has previously been discussed.
Under the mayor’s framework, the team would be responsible for half the costs of the project. The trade-off, it appears, will lead to more commercialization of Wrigley Field that will change the look of the beloved icon.
To raise $150 million in revenue, the team is considering several options, sources said, including:
•More signs like the red Toyota logo behind the outfield bleachers.
•Selling concessions on streets around Wrigley.
The stadium changes would require accommodations, such as altering the city law that confers landmark status on Wrigley Field. The mayor is open to streamlining that process, which would make it easier for the Cubs to add more advertising around the ballpark, a source said.
This kind of hybrid solution – the city/state/county provide part of the funding (but only via taxes raised directly from Cubs’ sales), and the Cubs provide the other part (particularly if by way of relaxed restrictions on their ability to generate revenue) – could really be the best way to go. That’s not only because it is politically palatable, but also because, long-term, it could provide greater benefits to the Cubs than if they simple received a check for the full $300 million from the city/state/county tomorrow. With restrictions eased, the Cubs could find themselves flush with new revenue streams that contribute directly to the on-field product after those streams have raised enough money for the Wrigley renovation.
This approach is getting my stamp of approval, unless someone wants to change my mind. I know we could fight about the specific revenue generators (some folks hate the idea of a Jumbotron, for example), but, in general, this is the way to go, right?