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wrigley-field-old-schoolWrigley Field, whatever formal designations exist, is a landmark. It’s an historic place. It’s a treasure. All that.

But now the Chicago Cubs are looking to memorialize that “historic place” one by way of the federal register, according to the Chicago Tribune. The timing of the Cubs filing paperwork to get such a designation is obviously convenient, given the upcoming renovations: the Cubs can get significant federal tax credits for refurbishing an “historic place.” You should read the Tribune’s report for the full details, but the short version is that the Cubs could receive a 20% credit on their $300 million renovation project.

To which I say … good for the Cubs. It’s not like Wrigley Field isn’t as historically important as the other 38,000 places on the National Register that have received some tax credit under the federal program, per the Tribune. If the Cubs can save some money by formally receiving the historic designation, why not go for it? The federal government has an interest in preserving historic places, and they want folks to spend money to keep those places around for years to come. That’s what the Cubs are doing with Wrigley Field, so tax credits ho.

As for the timing, since the National Register designation is simply an honorary type thing, there was no reason for the Cubs to go through the process until they had an incentive to do so. With the renovations now teed up, there’s an incentive. Once again, good for the Cubs.

There’s a part of me, too, that feels like, for as much as the Cubs have been impeded by the museum qualities of Wrigley, at least some governmental entity is finally stepping up to compensate the Cubs for preserving a museum for the good of the public. The Red Sox received this credit when they renovated Fenway Park, and I’m glad they did. I’ve still not had the chance to see Fenway, and I’m glad it’ll be around when I finally get up that way.

I don’t want to overstate things, but it’s important to remember that a big piece of the renovation story is the preservation of Wrigley Field. Yes it’s about player facilities and fan amenities. Yes it’s about increasing revenue. Yes it’s about a new and different experience in the Wrigleyville area. But it’s also about ensuring that this beautiful ballpark at Clark and Addison is still there when I take my kids to Chicago.

If a federal designation – one designed to that very end – helps the Cubs make that a reality, great.

(Oh, and if it allows more revenues to flow into the organization to be spent on the baseball product, well, then, everybody wins!)

  • http://flawedcast.net/wtny/ Nate Corbitt

    Strange. For some reason, I thought it was already on the National Register. I thought that was another reason there were extra hurdles to clear in its renovation.

    • Cubbie Blues

      It has a local designation, but not federal.

      • http://flawedcast.net/wtny/ Nate Corbitt

        Ah. That makes sense. Thank you.

        • Hee Seop Chode

          $60 million is not an insignifigant amount. Good for the Rickets.

          Side note – should it read an “historic place.” or a historic place?

          • Scotti

            Likely about 2/3 of that $60M (building the restaurants, clubs, JumboTron, etc. wont be covered) but still a good chunk and very legitimate. Go Cubs!

  • Jp3

    Oh look, the rich guy figured out another way to get a tax break… Sorry I couldn’t resist. Any Mad Men fans among us bleacher nation folk???

    • hansman1982
    • Wilbur

      Thank God for rich people willing to spend their money and earn revenue while improving my team!

  • Frank

    Brett, When you do get to Fenway park, be sure you have ear plugs in, because all your going to hear is wining about everything. You also might want to invest in a rain suit to keep dry when they start to cry about every pitch not called a strike.

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      That’s unfair. I’ve been to Fenway dozens of times and the fan base is nothing like you say. They are actually the most intelligent group of fans that I have sat with and I was rooting for the enemy.

      You probably had a cub hat on and made a fool of yourself there and were picked on.You probably deserved it as well

      FYI. You misspelled “whining” as well which actually destroyed your post.

      • Steve B

        I don’t know. I’ve been to a few games at Fenway and have seen both sides. While I’ve had some great conversations with some intelligent fans, I’ve also seen numerous fights and watched a Braves fan get pegged off with peanuts when they were playing the Braves. It was actually quite amusing. There was a Cub fan once sitting 2 rows in front of me who did get kicked out of the game. I ran into him years later at Wrigley in line while getting a beer. We had a good laugh over the incident.

    • Wilbur

      Been to Fenway a number of times and didn’t see the experience as anything but a fun day at a ball game …

  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    …..well, if they can’t win on the field this year….
    I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. Everybody else had to have been thinking the same thing.
    I’m in to the entire rebuild, I get the fact that they won’t win for a bit, at least we can try and have a sense of humor about it.

  • Ron

    I loved Fenway. Didnt get a chance to see a game just took a tour with a diehard fan that grew up in south boston.

  • B_Scwared

    For the record I don’t think they are eligible for the entire $300. Only the amount that counts toward restoration. Meaning funds for a jumbotron aren’t eligible. At least that’s my interpretation of what I read.

  • fortyonenorth

    I wonder if the planned enhancements would get in the way of the landmark designation. I’m not familiar with the requirements, but I would there’s some limitations on how one can alter the physical appearance of a structure and still qualify for the exemption. Nothing to prohibit a new coat of paint, I’m sure, but a JumboTron…

  • wvcubsfan

    This will be very interesting. Hopefully there are very few things that are listed on the historic record because renovating a historic building is much more complicated than renovating one that isn’t. Anything listed must be kept at or restored to the original state, which is costly and complicated.

    • Dustin S

      I would second the comment about the complication. Be careful what you wish for with being declared a historic building. It seriously ramps up the limitations and scrutiny when doing any sort of renovation work moving forward, almost to a ridiculous degree.

      One example, my street is still brick pavement and one of the oldest in our city, over 100 years old. Since it was declared a historic street, it can only be repaired by replacing brick with brick, no patching, which is expensive compared to standard cement streets. So expensive that the city can’t afford to do it. Needless to say driving down my street is a lot like off-roading. If you want to destroy the suspension in your car, drive down my block at 20 mph and you’ll do a good job of it. Scaling that type of thinking up to Wrigley would seem like a complete nightmare. So I hope the tax benefits are large enough to offset that. I would worry that it would be like the rooftop situation, only maybe even worse.

  • Colocubfan

    Any restrictions about “modern” things like Jumbotrons in a “preserved historic” venue?

    • wvcubsfan

      http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20040127&content_id=631178&vkey=news_chc&fext=.jsp&c_id=chc

      “The council’s Committee on Historical Landmarks and Preservation did not issue blanket landmark designation for the 90-year-old ballpark, according to City News Service. Instead, the committee endorsed a proposal to grant landmark status to Wrigley Field’s four exterior walls and roofs, the marquee sign at the corner of Clark and Addison streets, the center field scoreboard, the grandstands and bleachers, and the brick wall and ivy surrounding the playing field.”

      If similar language is used in the national designation I don’t think that minor modifications to the bleachers or grandstands would be prohibited (moving the wall out or adding a video screen) but I’m not sure they would ever be able to totally remove and replace any of these items.

  • BluBlud

    300 million renovation for Wrigley.

    -60 million(20% Discount for being on the National Registry)

    -75 million(Cost to maintain Wrigley over those five years that will be spent anyway.)

    -100 million(66% reduction in the cost to maintain Wrigley in the 10 years following the 5 year renovation.

    =65 million dollar, out of pocket renovation, over a 15 year period to renovate wrigley. After 15 year, they’ll probably start looking at additiona renovations to keep up with the times. Sound like Ricketts is a very, very, smart man

  • John

    I have that pic in a frame on my wall!

  • http://gatorpreservationist.wordpress.com/ Chris

    Wrigley Field can definitely listed on the NRHP. It was determined eligible as a National Historic Landmark (a step up from the NRHP) in 1987.

    But the National Park Service is rather strict when it comes to tax credits, and I doubt they will agree that a giant jumbotron is in keeping with Wrigley’s historic character.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Worked for Fenway.

  • Die hard

    I will be impressed when the Ricketts make their #1 goal refurbishing all of the Chicago K-8 schools with some of the profits made from this historic landmark– until then it’s just another tax dodge only the wealthy can have— even Al Capone donated back to the city that made him rich from booze and entertainment — and isn’t that what baseball has become? Just another excuse to get drunk?– before Wrigley was historic it was a place where you could take your family without having to deal with beer vendors blocking your view of the field and having beer spilled all over your kids as cups are being passed up and down the rows

    • DarthHater

      I will be impressed when the Ricketts make their #1 goal stopping such a tragic waste of beer.

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