Last week, the Ricketts Family announced plans to include a state-of-the-art athletic facility, provided by the Chicago Athletic Club, in the hotel the family plans to build across the street from Wrigley Field once the renovation plans are approved. The announcement was viewed by many as something of a pressure tactic, designed to pressure the Mayor’s Office and Alderman Tom Tunney to get cracking on working with the Cubs on a comprehensive renovation and funding plan.
The announcement, however, was met by hostility from both the Mayor and the Alderman. The former simply didn’t like the Cubs trying to apply public pressure, and the latter continues to oppose any renovation plans until certain benefits are guaranteed to the neighborhood (which probably includes a definitive agreement with the rooftops not to block their views into Wrigley Field).
Fortunately, shortly after everyone made their public comments, Mayor Emanuel summoned both Tom Ricketts and Alderman Tunney to a meeting, probably designed to keep things moving along.
A source told the Tribune that “progress” was made at the meeting, but added that “the Mayor thinks this deal should have been finished a long time ago.”
The Sun-Times adds that the biggest holdup right now, per a Cubs source, is the fight between the Cubs and the rooftops/Tunney regarding signs in the ballpark, which have the potential to block rooftop views. You may recall that the rooftops have offered to host ad signage on their buildings, with all revenue going to the Cubs (in exchange for an extension of their deal with the Cubs, and an agreement not to block any of their views), but the Cubs have generally resisted that plan, saying publicly that ads inside the ballpark are much more valuable.
Interestingly, an earlier version of the Sun-Times piece had a great deal more detail on the meeting at the Mayor’s Office. A source described the meeting as “fine,” with “no fireworks,” and said that night games were also discussed. The Cubs would like to increase the number of night games allowed at Wrigley Field as one of the funding mechanisms for the renovation (together with increased ad signage, more concerts, and street fairs outside the park). The source said if the Cubs and rooftops can come to an agreement on ad signage, the Mayor “may be prepared to lift the 30-game-per-season ceiling on the number of night games to 44 or 45 games, with some of the dates reserved for concerts and six to ten 3:05pm starts could also be a part of the mix.”
Why was that removed from the story? Misquoted? One of the sides put in a frantic call to ask for that piece’s removal because it hurt negotiating position? Maybe Tunney didn’t want neighborhood folks to know that he was using night games as leverage to get a better deal for the rooftops? I’m just spit-ballin’, because I really have no idea. It’s curious, though.
I still believe there’s a compromise here that minimally satisfies all sides. The Cubs and the Ricketts Family have, in my opinion, already bent considerably, in large part by trying to fund the renovation – and the nice additions around the ballpark – all by themselves. Other folks need to do some bending.
[Note: BN has an advertising relationship with some of the rooftops, but that relationship has not impacted how I've been covering this ongoing story.]