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1_PROPOSED_MARQUEE_VIEWAs discussed yesterday, most folks are on board with the Ricketts Family’s new funding plan for the Wrigley Field renovation, which ultimately amounts to little more than “get off our backs with respect to restrictions, and we’ll pay for the whole thing ourselves.” The fans seem into it, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel sounds tentatively into it.

I say “most” folks, though, because some members of the immediately-surrounding community remain to be convinced that increased signage, more night games, more concerts, and street fairs are a good thing. While their approval may not be strictly necessary with respect to some of the funding mechanisms, the Cubs undoubtedly would prefer to work on a collaborative way.

Representing those interests is Alderman Tom Tunney, a fixture in Wrigley-related discussions since time immemorial (in reality, it’s been 10 years). He has, at various times, supported the Wrigley renovations, presumably insofar as they benefit his constituency (which, if we avoid cynism for just a moment, is his job, I suppose). His position on the current proposals, though, is only just starting to take shape. And it sounds like he has some reservations.

“I think a lot of balloons are being floated,” Tunney told John Byrne of the Tribune. “A lot of what they said has not been presented to the community.”

Tunney went on to discuss the potential impact on arguably his largest – and inarguably most invested – constituency, the rooftop owners. (Once again, disclosure: BN has an advertising relationship with some of the rooftops.) As noted yesterday, their concern is that increased signage or a JumboTron at Wrigley could block the views of their patrons, depressing their revenue and property value. They currently share 17% of their proceeds with the Cubs by agreement, so the Cubs do have some vested interest. Tunney suggested that the signage could appear on the rooftops, themselves, with the Cubs and the rooftops splitting the increased revenue. On the plus side, doing so would further preserve the character of Wrigley, but, on the down side, it’s less revenue for the Cubs.

Tunney separately told the Sun-Times that, obviously, he doesn’t support any signs that block views into the park from the rooftops, and indicated to both papers that he’s unhappy the Triangle Building project has been scrapped in favor of an open air area. His primary beef there appears to be the lack of parking in the area, which was to be increased dramatically in the project. The irony is that the Cubs have said they scrapped the Triangle Building in part because neighborhood residents expressed a desire for more open air areas.

The interplay between the Cubs, the city, and the neighborhood will continue to govern the Cubs’ ability to see their current funding plan through, but there isn’t yet a concern that the neighborhood will be able to unilaterally stop the plans if both the Cubs and the city are fully into it. And, let’s be real: without Wrigley Field, “Wrigleyville” is just another Chicago neighborhood. There should be considerable interest on the part of the residents and rooftop owners to play nice, too.

  • dash

    If they were to move the Toyota sign elsewhere and install a Jumbotron in that general area (to the left of the scoreboard), would that block the view from any rooftops?

    • Scotti

      Yes.

  • I-CubsFanBoy

    Here’s a solution. You know that red roofed house out to left with the giant Budwiser script on it? Build your giant Jumbotron there.

    • http://www.sportsdanny.com Dan

      Putting a Jumbo-tron on a rooftop outside the stadium? You think people complain about things now – how would you like 50,000 watt light bulbs in your window…

  • http://www.sportsdanny.com Dan

    1.All Rickets has to do is say, “Fine Rooftop owners, you want to keep your views of Wrigley, we’ll move to Naperville!”…I’m certain that Tunney and his cronnies will immediately agree to allowing the Jumbotron and increased signage.
    2. The rooftops are NOT part of the Wrigley experience! They are rooftops outside Wrigley that make 73% of the revenue while stealing a product. So the Cubs get $17 per head, the owner is making $73 per head – then they want increase revenue from the Cubs? Ricketts should tell them where to take their revenue.
    3. A bar owner was on WGN last night saying that Murphy’s Bleachers owner is in the minority when it comes to her feelings on the field and lifting the restrictions in place.
    4. The City is going to allow the Cubs to pay for the renovations and allow them to do whatever they want. Emmanual knows that he has to allow it to happen because if he doesn’t, eventually, Ricketts will just move, despite not wanting to move – He also understands that giving public funds in a recession isn’t going to work. As a result, the rooftop owners are going to have to deal because Tunney may have power in the neighborhood but the mayor runs the city.

    • DarthHater

      73 + 17 = 90. Where is the other 10% going? ;-)

    • Pat

      1) Where in Naperville? What sort of public transportation access will there be? Who is going to pay for the stadium (you can’t build a new one for 300 mil).

      2) the rooftops as originally constructed were absolutely a part of the “Wrigley experience” as sold by WGN in the eighties. I bet you can’t find a single broadcast from that time with less than a half dozen camera close ups on them.

      3) Meh

      4) Ricketts isn’t going anywhere without cutting his revenue in half at minimum, ergo, Ricketts isn’t going anywhere. He can’t even legitimately bluff that he is because the numbers don’t add up.

  • MJ

    You can’t run a team on hot dog and beer sales alone. Corporate sponsors, with their “gaudy ads” help you pay for a quality product. Of course, it’s not just for replays and stats. But the Ricketts’ are trying to ease the “traditionalists/purists” into the 21st century.

    In a big market like Chicago and a high profile park seen nationally almost daily during the season like Wrigley, sponsors will pay top dollar to advertise there.

    Cheap young talent will someday become expensive veterans. You increase the payroll as the team gets better (and add more talent), so that money has to come from somewhere.

  • Crazyhorse

    Having a baseball stadium right smack in the middle of a residential zone is crazy but it is reality. Take away the neighborhood some could argue that Cubs would draw less and the residents in the community would be happier. On the other hand the buisness and commercial real estate would cry foul. The roof top vendors, well in my opinion dont matter – it was fun while it lasted.

    I like that the Ricketts family have proposed that they will finance the deal. And, if the family should try and move the team – again i support that as well.

    I also support the people that live in that district. over the years those citizens have put up alot with many antics of having a stadium on its doorstep and many would care less if the Cubs moved and other not.

    Maybe the CUbs Should Move and build a Stadium and rename it Ricketts Cricketts the only sound one hears inside comes August and September like most teams do when their team is bad.

    If the Cubs follow their proposed plan – then all they have do is play nice with the residence and if no compromise can be reach then

    Time to pack the bags and leave good ole Wrigley, and begin a new Corporate Baseball Park somewhere that will give the family what it wants.

  • Edward

    So the vibe I get from most people around here is screw Wrigley and its traditions, lets generate as much revenue as we can? As an out-of-town Cubs fan, Wrigley is 99% of the reason I support the Cubs (the other 1% is Andre Dawson). I’m guessing millions of other fans feel the same way. Take that away and the Cubs become the White Sox or Brewers. Just another mid-west team.

    I’d rather wait a lifetime to see one World Series victory at Wrigley than a dozen at TD Ameritrade park in the burbs.

    And since when has the Cubs failure been attributed to a lack of monetary resources? Maybe an uncommitted ownership or poor front office management, but I’ve never felt they were handcuffed by their lack of payroll. Easy to point to the current payroll trend, but buying a winner via free-agency is an outdated way to build a franchise. I have full confidence the Cubs have the necessary resources to expand the payroll when they feel it is the most appropriate way to make the team better in the short and long run.

    Do we really think an absence of a JumboTron is what’s holding the team back from winning? I’m starting to think Chicagoans don’t realize how special a place like Wrigley is to the countless fans that plan entire vacations around coming to Wrigley to experience a ballpark largely unchanged from the days of Ruth and Gherig. It’s one of the last sacred spots in all of sports. Abandoning that would be an irreversible mistake that would not only lose the thousands if fans like me, but the countless potential fans that may subscribe to a similar ideal.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Alright a couple of things:

      1- most of us here love, respect, and desire Wrigley to stay Wrigley. Nobody’s (except for a minority that wang a 80K seat burb park) is asking to change anything that the world identifies with Wrigley. We just want to see a modern stadium that provides the players with the amenities that every other ballpark provides players, and a stadium that maximizes the fan experience for this and future generations.

      2-The jumbotron is not part of the plan right now, it was not shown in the revel at Cubs Con, it was simply mentioned and the fan reaction was quite negative. Lets focus on what is being planned to happen not what we fear.

      3-Ballparks modernize over time there were bold changes in the 30’s then nothing major till the lights went up. If you owned a home would not do anything major to it for 70 years? These changes need to happen, the right field update was seemless and well received and did not distract from the beauty and tradition of Wrigley. If change is the enemy of tradition we’d have no marquee, no ivy, no bleachers, no scoreboard, hell it wouldn’t even be called Wrigley. The Wrigley my grandparents visited is different from the Wrigley I visit, and will be different that what my kids and grand kids visit… BUT IT’S STILL WRIGLEY. Few fan bases can say 5+ generations have seen the Cubs play at the same place. Few fans in the world can say that about thier team- WE CAN and that’s tradition.

    • Mike

      @ Edward: I couldn’t agree more. Seriously. The Cubs have had tons of money for decades. I attribute a lack of winning to poorly run front offices and, sometimes, field managers. Wrigley is just fine the way it is. While I can understand some repairs, or maybe some refinements, I would hate to see a JumboTron out there.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Seriously just fine the way it is? Have you seen the locker room, the training room, the batting cage? We are asking millionaires to have the same conditions most high schools have, if you devoted your life baseball how excited would you be to deal with those conditions when every visiting clubhouse is better than your home facilities. Changes have to happen, advertising and revenue streams are only one part of these needed renovations.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      What traditions are being stomped on?

      The ivy will still be there. The sightlines will still be there. The manual scoreboard will still be there.

      Anything else is just rank innovation.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Kyle here we agree ;)

    • baseballet

      Well said Edward!

    • hansman1982

      “And since when has the Cubs failure been attributed to a lack of monetary resources? Maybe an uncommitted ownership or poor front office management, but I’ve never felt they were handcuffed by their lack of payroll. Easy to point to the current payroll trend, but buying a winner via free-agency is an outdated way to build a franchise. I have full confidence the Cubs have the necessary resources to expand the payroll when they feel it is the most appropriate way to make the team better in the short and long run. ”

      It isn’t about going out and buying up the biggnest name free agents, hell the Dodgers and their $230M payroll didn’t even do that. It’s about affording the guys you develop, acquiring the big names in trades AND then adding a piece or two in free agency.

      When the Cubs payroll clearly maxed out in the $130M range and the other big boys were spending $160M+, it’s clear the Cubs revenue could use a boost.

  • MJ

    The best “tradition”of all is winning.

    The White Sox messed with tradition and renamed Comiskey Park, U.S. Cellular Field…and won the World Series a couple of years after.

    The Red Sox messed with tradition and put signage and seats on top of the Green Monster..and won the World Series a couple of years after.

    The Yankees messed with tradition and DEMOLISHED old Yankee Stadium, home of 26 championships…and won the World Series the next year.

    Is there a direct link between messing with tradition and winning? I don’t know. We can’t prove it. But, wouldn’t any real Cubs fan agree that it might be time to try messing with things a little at Wrigley?

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Yup a World Champion banner would be a nice tradition.

  • medler

    The arguments against “messing with Wrigley” ring hollow.

    The plans offered are very conservative and, in my humble opinion, still not enough. However, as long as Tunney and this small, but noisy group of Lakeview “residents” still bang the old drum of “Neighborhood aesthetics”, this is the only plan that will be pressed forward.

    I have a billion of very strong opinions about this, but I reduce all of them down to one fine point. Go to Wrigley on a cold winter’s day and stand outside of it and objectively take it in…all of it. Look at the marquee and smile…fine. But, don’t tell me the rusted fencing and the cream and green paint that covers the outside is charming…it’s not. The place is old and it looks old. Looks uninspired compared to so many new and old ball parks.

    Allowing Wrigley to become a relic is not preserving the past. Enhancing it, beautifying it: these choices make it breathe and grow and…most importantly…retains its charm.

    For the life of me, I cannot see the argument for NOT restoring the ballpark. Not just to build revenue for a winner, but to remodel something that all Cub fans cherish. Peeing in a trough and having substandard food is not charming. Our favorite players not having good facilities to prepare themselves and feel comfortable is not a tradition.

    These are failures in vision. Winners have big visions. I boycotted the Cubs in 2011 because I sensed not vision. My first year since 1988 (I was 13) without a live Cub game was because I felt no collective weariness that the plan (whatever that was) was working.

    Now we have visionaries. Guys with plans and expectations. It feels big time. The Cubs are big time. I live in Chicago. Why? Because it’s Big Time. We should expect big time from our teams, our politicians, our neighbors, etc…

    The rooftop owners…btw…can suck it. I sat up there back when it was a Weber Grill, a case of beer, and lawn chairs. That was charming…and awesome. Now? $125-200 for a bad sight lines, and average food? Yuck. If I were the Cubs I’d just build a second tier to the bleachers and tell them to deal.

  • dash

    I was completely against the idea of adding lights to Wrigley back in the 80s, so I understand the feelings of wanting to preserve the traditions and nostalgic feel. Now I find myself hoping for a Jumbotron, even if only for the potential revenue it might generate. It it brings in enough to pay for an elite starting pitcher, then the sooner the better.

    Also, looking at Fenway… has the Jumbotron there ruined the nostalgic feel of the stadium? What do you all think?

  • MachoMan

    The MachoMan remembered his password, so he’s chiming in. He likes his beer American, his women stacked, and his homers long and unambiguous. Let’s get some runs now; I don’t care about 5 seasons ahead. MachoMan’s chiming in because he doesn’t want Wrigley to turn into DisneyLand. If I want special effects on a big screen I know where to go – the latest Michael Bay Masterpiece at the local multiplex. I was never happier than watching Sammy Sosa homers punctuated by organ music and the smell of urine. Don’t take the urine out of Wrigley.

  • Kevin

    Last Saturday’s announcement about the Rickett’s family plan to renovate Wrigley Field sounded nice but it had a lot of holes in it. If the City does not lift every possible restriction, the Ricketts will have an out and will build a new stadium elsewhere. .They can always say they tried but Chicago would not work with them.

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