Finally, there’s a little something happening in the way of Wrigley Field renovations, and it could be something big. And we could find out about it as soon as the Cubs Convention next week.
But I’m getting ahead of myself …
Tuesday night, the Chicago Cubs presented the possible upgrades they’re considering for Wrigley Field, together with the nearby Triangle Property, to a community group in the Wrigleyville area. In short, the Cubs are looking to improve everything – dugouts, restrooms, concessions, locker rooms, batting cages (added below the grandstands), luxury suites, and the press box. Additionally, the Cubs are looking to turn the Triangle Property into a community area for all kinds of events, and the McDonald’s property into a hotel.
The information comes from a report on DNAinfo Chicago, a media enterprise owned and operated by Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts. Although he doesn’t have any direct involvement with the Cubs, he obviously would be certain to make sure the information about the renovations were supremely accurate in his own publication. Some details, from DNAinfo:
A short video showed a rendering of what the Cubs have in mind for the ballpark. The changes would be phased in over four years if approved, [Cubs manager of community outreach Jennifer] Dedes Nowak said.
“This is a heads-up,” she said, emphasizing she sought community input before final decisions. “This is what we’re thinking.”
The plan also featured more practice space for players and a replacement for the existing roof.
Development of the field’s adjacent triangle property — the area west of the ballpark now occupied by a temporary ice rink and parking lots — aims to transform the spot into a neighborhood entertainment and community hub.
Renderings featured an open space for farmers markets, outdoor movie screenings and a better ice rink. It would be surrounded by more Cubs office space and a one- to two-story retail plaza.
That all sounds in line with the things we’ve heard over the last couple years. Essentially, the Cubs are holding out the possibility of a great community area and hotel (with parking) as a carrot to incentivize the neighborhood to get on board with easing restrictions on the things the Cubs can do to generate revenue. And, if the neighborhood likes the improvements enough, maybe they even get on board with the idea of the Cubs receiving some public money to work on the renovations, in the form of tax breaks on the amusement tax collected on Cubs tickets. The community obviously isn’t “the decider” in that regard, but surely the Cubs recognize it can’t hurt to have a big group of taxpayers on your side.
Here’s the real kicker: the article indicates Cubs’ VP of Communications Julian Green said official photos of the renderings of the possible upgrades are going to be presented January 19th.
What’s January 19th? That’s the Saturday of the Cubs Convention.
Now, I ask you: why would the Cubs present the renderings of the future of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area unless they had a pretty good sense that *something* was going to happen, and soon? Last year at the Convention, we saw renderings of the new Dominican facility, which was already green lit. Further, the Cubs announced the new patio section in right field and the new LED board, which had not yet been finalized, but everyone understood were going to happen.
The wheels in my head are turning. Would the Cubs reveal renderings and plans for the Wrigley renovations at the annual fan convention, only to add the caveat that, “we don’t know if any of this is actually going to happen, though, because we don’t know if we can get the funding to make it happen”? I really don’t think they would.
I won’t go so far as to predict that we’re going to have an announcement at the Convention, but it now suddenly seems plausible. Short of an announcement, a statement of confidence that things are going to proceed soon seems … likely. It feels crazy to say that, but how else can you interpret this information?
The Convention just got a whole lot more interesting.