Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Cubs, City, Alderman Reach Agreement (For Realsies This Time)

respect wrigleyLate last night/in the wee hours of the morning, the Chicago Cubs and the City of Chicago announced that they have come to an agreement, together with Alderman Tom Tunney, that will allow the Cubs to proceed with their $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, as well as a $200 million hotel/office building project.

The agreement comes after months of wrangling, and is just an agreement between the Cubs/City/Alderman – many of its parts will require the usual approval from the City Council, various commissions, etc. So, while the largest hurdle has now been overcome, there are still things to do. Figuring out the rooftop response is going to be one of those things, too.

A press conference is expected at some point today to discuss the specifics (UPDATE: 11am CT), but, in the interim, you can see a number of details here from Danny Ecker at Crain’s, here from the AP, here from the Sun-Times, and here from the Tribune. I’ll lay out those details with exacting precision later today after the press conference, but if you’ve been following the story, you should already know the gist:

  • Wrigley Field will get a $300 million makeover, more in function than form. Player facilities will be improved, fan amenities will be improved, structural integrity will be improved, etc.
  • The Cubs will get a large video board in left field (JumboTron, probably about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet) and an advertising sign in right field. You should also expect increased signage within the park – the only reason the two outfield signs were the most discussed is because of the rooftop issue.
  • The Cubs will get 40 night games, up from 30, plus the flexibility to increase that number depending on MLB’s request to flip day games to night games to accommodate national broadcasts.
  • The Cubs will get to use Wrigley for up to four concerts, up from three.
  • The Cubs will get to use Sheffield Avenue, which is already closed on game days, for street fairs.
  • The Cubs will be permitted to build on the Triangle Property next to Wrigley Field, which building will include office space for the team, retail, and open air areas.
  • The Ricketts Family will be allowed to build a hotel on the McDonald’s property, which will be affiliated with Sheraton, and will include a Chicago Athletic Club facility.
  • The Cubs will work to develop an improved remote parking plan.
  • Everyone seems to be working toward getting the necessary approvals in place by the end of the season so that the Cubs can break ground immediately after the final out.

You can get more specifics in the four articles linked above, and there will be much more to discuss later today. (UPDATE: The press conference is scheduled for 11am CT.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

62 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Cubs, City, Alderman Reach Agreement (For Realsies This Time)”

  1. TNN2

    Sounds like a huge win for the Cubs. What did they ask for that they didn’t really get?

    Out of this whole affair Tunney is the only one who is going to come out looking less than great.

    1. CubFan Paul

      From the Tribune article: “The Cubs also would contribute an undisclosed amount of money to the School Street Play Lot and make annual contributions the next 10 years for public projects benefiting the community as agreed upon by Tunney and the Cubs”

      This is what Tunney wanted all along: for the Cubs to pump (*more*) money into his charities and projects.

      1. roz

        At least it’s public projects for the community though. It seems a bit shady and indicative of Chicago politics (or politics in general) but I suppose it could worse.

        1. CubFan Paul

          it’s more than shady, it’s bribery. Every time the Cubs need something done they have to “donate” to Tunney’s private charities/foundations and public projects to get his “approval”.

          Its not a coincidence that Tunney separated himself from the Rooftops as negotiations ran on…

          1. TNN2

            Those projects are also positive PR for the Cubs.

            1. CubFan Paul

              Yes, Tunney is a great politician.

              1. TNN2

                I never suggested that at all. Tunney is a total schmuck in my book.

                But the Cubs know how the city works. Every single time they ask for something from the city they donate a park, or to a baseball program someplace. This “request” comes as no surprise and costs so little that it was likely one of the first things they agreed to since it also helps them look good around the community.

                My point is that those donations are insignificant to the Cubs in the big scheme of things, especially since they got almost everything they were looking for.

                1. Ron

                  The are not insignificat though because it all adds up and puts them at a competitive disadvantage. If its 5 mil a year ( just picking an arbitrary number) the will affect the players on the field. It could make the difference between Anibal Sancheze and Edwin Jackson. ( sorry about the spelling)

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Maybe but I think all MLB teams have a couple of million attached to community projects. It would be interesting to see which team spend the most on community projects.

                  2. TNN2

                    It’s $500,000 a year for the first few and then drops to $250,000 a year. Those are going to look like rounding errors pretty soon.

                  3. CubFan Paul

                    Ricketts just said it’s a total of $4.7M ($1M for a park and $3.7M for “other projects” that they will develop with Tunney)

                    That bribe money will get plan passed with community leaders easily.

                    1. TNN2

                      Right, but that’s spread out over 10 years :

                      Under the new deal, the Cubs would have to pay $500,000 a year from 2014-2018 and $250,000 a year from 2019-2023. The projects would be determined by the alderman and the team.

                      Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130415/lakeview/wrigley-field-renovation-deal-reached-on-signs-night-games-more#ixzz2QY6mpw80

              2. MichiganGoat

                Paul I agree if by politician you mean he will do anything to better his own position and his public image vs. doing what is best for society and the well being of all parties involved. He is very good at helping his own interests and avoiding losing battles (ie rooftops). So yes in that regard he is a great politician, and that make me so sad.

          2. Jp3

            I don’t know about anyone else but I’m ready for this renovation deal to be over… I would rather have “Obsessive Watch” over every Brad Lillibridge hit or every time Carlos Marmol gets a 1-2-3 inning. This whole renovation deal reminds me of the process of getting a root canal.

            1. Cubbie Blues

              The only problem with that is there would be very few updates.

            2. CubFan Paul

              Lillibridge does appear to be having better at bats. He no longer looks like a scared high schooler who can only foul balls off. He looks more comfortable at the plate now.

              1. Jp3

                He’s got 1 hit in 24 ABs, granted he is 1 for his last 7 which is much improved over his previous 0-17. We’d literally be better off sending a pitcher up for pinch hitting duties.

                1. blublud

                  We be better off send my 6 year old son up. I sure he could just throw the bat at the ball and come up with more hits the Lillibridge.

      2. TNN2

        That’s the price of doing business in Chicago. The Cubs knew that all along.

      3. TNN2

        In case you don’t know what the School Street playground looks like, here is the link to the drawings: http://schoolplaylot.com/images/PRELIM_RENDERS_3-18-32013.pdf

        Looks like some nice advertising for the Cubs there.

        1. cjdubbya

          Just checked out the space for that on Google maps. That’ll be neat to see the Cubs logo on there in time.

  2. Die hard

    Build it and they will come only if team wins—- Marlins and Expos

    1. CUB5

      Attendance is one thing the Cubs haven’t had a problem with…well, since the 80′s at least.

      1. CubFan Paul

        2.8M last year and probably less this year..

    2. Jp3

      Only the Marlins and Expos will come after the renovation?😃

      1. MichiganGoat

        Face meet palm… are you seriously comparing the Cubs to organizations with no dedicated fan bases, hell both of them had to move in order to increase attendance (The Nationals are looking good, The Marlins… well its the Marlins). Compare the Cubs to the Red Sox and Yankees if you want accurate comparisons about attendance during “down” years.

        1. roz

          Whoa there Goat. He was making a joke about how the parent comment was phrased and made it seem like the parent comment was saying that the Marlins and Expos would come to Wrigley if we renovate it. That’s all.

          1. MichiganGoat

            Whoops that was suppose to be a response to die hard’s comment

            1. DarthHater

              I just assume that everything you post is directed at Die hard… :-P

              1. MichiganGoat

                Sigh but that’s not a bad assumption…

          2. Jp3

            Roz, thanks for catching my sarcasm;). Yes I was definitely mocking the aforementioned quote of “build it and they will come”. My face does currently hurt from the palm however and that cannot be taken back😐

            1. MichiganGoat

              Sorry there buddy at some point I’m going to the DL for repeated face palms.

              1. Jp3

                Haha, no harm my man, ironically my joke was also intended to rib die hard😃

  3. Die hard

    Also new future home for NW football

    1. JulioZuleta

      That would be nice. I’m a big NW fan and Ryan Field is such a huge recruiting disadvantage. It’s basically a high school field.

      1. TNN2

        Maybe the woeful attendance is the recruiting disadvantage. NW is like the Tampa Bay Rays – even when they win with a much smaller budget people won’t go to their games.

        1. JulioZuleta

          Also would be helped by moving to Wrigley.

  4. BT

    So do the Friday games get moved to 3:05 THIS year?

    1. blublud

      I would assume so. I think a number of the start time are listed as TBD for this year, so it’s possible that they could be pushed back.

    2. BT

      I’ve got season tickets, and they all showed up as TBA, but I wasn’t sure if anyone can block that portion of the agreement or not.

      1. TNN2

        All of the scheduling changes like additional night games, concerts, or 3:05 starts must be approved by a new city ordinance approved by the city council.

  5. blublud

    I think the Cubs came out of this ahead. They didn’t did all they asked for, but they got most of what they asked for.

    Looking back on the whole thing, I don’t think Ricketts every really wanted the public funding he asked for. I think he knew it would get shot down. I think he used it for leverage as a way to come back and say I’ll pay for the whole thing, but I need a few thing in return. With the public funding, he probably doesn’t get as many extra night games, the extra concert, or the large Video board he is now getting. The long term gain is greater in him paying for it himself. He has complete control of the extra revenue now, and the Cubs will be able to use 100% of the extra revenue generated instead of having to kick it back to the City. He was spending $15 million a year to maintain Wrigley because of it’s rickety structure. Over 5 years, thats $75 million. So in reality, he is only having to kick in $225 million extra dollars to renovate the stadium. If the renovations cut his amount to maintain Wrigley just in half, which it is likely to do and then some, after the 5 years over the next 10 years, he is possibly only adding $150 million for a 15 year renovation project. It could actually be even less then that depending on the actual numbers.

    Like I said before, Ricketts is a very smart man. I trust that he has the best interest of the Cubs at heart, and will do everything he can to turn them into a valuable franchise. I have full faith in his abilities as a business owner.

    1. Dan


  6. Diamondrock

    Any word on whether or not the renovation will be able to start this off-season? Or did they wait too long for materials and have to put the whole thing off another year?

    I hope it’s not the latter, but even if it is I hope there is *some* stuff they can still do.

    1. hansman1982

      About a month ago, it was reported the Cubs had begun some of the renovation work (much to the chagrin of many posters on here claiming the Ricketts had lost leverage). I would imagine that most of the items needed for this offseason were ordered at that time.

  7. Dustin S

    Sounds good. Improved facilities should help make FA signings a little easier. I’m a purist so I feel like I’ll miss the old sign, but I have faith that it will be done well and will be done to fit in the old look like they did with the the right field panel. Also, if this means the convention will eventually be moving to the Sheraton across the street from Wrigley, that will be awesome. All the rest like an additional Wrigley concert (DMB again please!) are all a plus too.

    My main 2 concerns are how they’ll work the renovations around the play schedule. Will it all be done off-season or will there be juggling or playing off-site? Also, if the left field moves out 8 feet like there was talk of, will the left field dimensions still stay the same? By that I mean will the outer wall move but the inner wall/ivy/basket stay in place as is? I assume so but wondered about that.

  8. Drew

    Any chance the new Video Board will have it’s own, “Roof Top Seating”?

    They did it with Green Monster in Boston, why not?

    1. Drew

      And then to appease the Roof Top Owners, the Cubs give 17% of the revenue from these 200 Premium tickets back to them for the lost sight lines. . . . LOL!

  9. Tom A.

    Brett, thank you for hanging in there and providing all of us with the very best available information related to the Wrigley Field renovation. I for one greatly appreciated that I could go to BN as a source of most everything related to such.

    All I can say is whew, what a relief it is to know the Cubs will stay right where they belong !

    Now that it is all over, I feel nothing but love for the Cubs and Ricketts family, mostly love for our Mayor and even alderman Tunney, but truly betrayed by the bar and rooftop owners. I want to wait for ten days before reacting, but likely those bar and rooftops will never see another of my earned $’s.

    1. MichiganGoat


  10. Rich

    the field dimensions will not change..the bleacher changes will be in the back. It looks as the city will lose the parking on that side of the street and the wall in the back will be moved.

  11. Daniel

    I’m glad the Cubs were big winners, they put up $500 million effing dollars…lol

  12. Grant

    The articles about the deal are pretty quiet about any agreement with the rooftops to avoid a lawsuit. Do you have any sense of what’s changed in the past week to make that a non-issue?

  13. DarthHater


    I just noticed for the first time the section of BN titled “Wrigley Field Rooftops.” Is that paid advertising? Or is it information about the rooftop clubs provided by BN as a service to Cubs fans?

    1. TWC

      You new around here, kid?

      That rooftop page has been here for ages. That’s what Ace is referring to with his disclaimer at the bottom of the Obsessive Wrigley Watch stories.

      What I don’t get is why the “Play Colvin At First Base” (“Conflicting Incentives”) article has been posted on the right sidebar since 2010!

      1. DarthHater

        I just hadn’t explored other parts of the site. I figured the rooftops were in the rotation of banner ads and that was the reason for the disclaimers. But if there’s going to be an entire page of the site devoted to them, I think it should include a statement that the page is paid advertising.

        Note: I would not join those who have suggested that Brett tell the rooftops to take their business elsewhere, since I’m sure that a fancy page like that generates important revenue for BN.

  14. BWA

    I know it means more money for players, but I am disappointed by the video board

  15. A Comprehensive Update on the Wrigley Renovation Plan – All of the Details on What’s to Come | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] my have noticed, is a complicated business, involving several layers and interested parties. With an agreement now in place, and the approval process to begin, it’s important to lay out – in excruciating detail [...]