Wrigley 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!)