Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs sought approval from the Landmarks Commission – to whom the Cubs are subject to approval on certain changes to Wrigley Field thanks to Wrigley’s landmark status – on a variety of things. First, there was the plan to move the backstop forward three feet in order to add about 56 additional premium seats. Second, there was a plan to make a section of the wall near the Cubs’ dugout movable to accommodate future college football games (so the teams don’t have to go in only one direction on offense, as they did – hilariously – back in 2010 when Northwestern and Illinois played at Wrigley Field). Finally, there was a plan to add two electrical vaults at the roof level, to increase electrical capacity for the stadium (something that obviously falls under the very large umbrella of “things that need to be done to improve/upkeep Wrigley”).
All three plans were approved by the commission, so you can expect to see additional seats behind home plate, additional efforts to have a college football game or two at Wrigley Field in the future (sweet!), and additional … um … lights? Or something.
That is all newsworthy stuff, particularly the first two, which could generate not-insignificant additional revenue for the Cubs. But what really caught my eye in the Tribune’s report were a handful of statements from the Landmark Commission about the greater Wrigley Field renovation plans – or, more accurately, the lack thereof. From the Tribune:
Few commissioners disapproved of the changes, but they once again pressed Chicago Cubs owners to come up with a long-term plan for renovations at the stadium.
Commissioner Mary Ann Smith said there could be a time when the Commission says they don’t want to see any more proposals until such a plan is produced.
“I mean that could happen…(but) because the Cubs are so beloved we really want to work with you,” Smith said.
Michael Lufrano, executive vice president of community affairs and general counsel said the team would like to create a big-picture plan for renovations at the stadium, but said the necessary changes were often hard to predict.
“I’d love to come back to you (and) say this is how it’s gonna come together,” he said. “They need to change. They need to evolve.”
“Preserving Wrigley Field is important to us.”
This is notable because, in the past, the Commission has been viewed as a potential hurdle to a comprehensive renovation at Wrigley Field – something of a wild card. That may yet prove to be the case, but Smith’s statement suggests that the Commission is not only standing ready to approve reasonable renovation plans, but is eager to get things moving. I don’t know whether they have the kind of political clout to knock any heads (or if they actually have that level of eagerness), but it can’t hurt to have them on board.