respect wrigleyAll of a sudden, there could be a very important meeting and vote on the Wrigley Field renovation project coming as soon as next week.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that, at the request of the Chicago Cubs, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has scheduled a special meeting next week to consider the proposed changes to Wrigley Field that touch upon its landmarked aspects. Specifically, the Commission would be considering the outfield signage (JumboTron and see-through sign in right field), moving the outfield walls to accommodate that signage, additional signage within the ballpark, and various restorations to the exterior of the ballpark.

If you want to be annoyed by neighborhood folks complaining about the Cubs implementing signage within the ballpark, and want to hear Alderman Tom Tunney saying things like “my goal is less signage everywhere,” by all means read the Sun-Times piece. I’m semi-kidding, because the piece also includes interesting – but noncommittal – thoughts from one member of the Commission.

It’s unclear exactly what, if anything, the Commission will vote upon next week, but I’m guess that, since the Cubs are pushing for a special meeting, it’s going to be something. Reviewing the Commission’s web site, it looks like the next planned meeting wasn’t until July 11 – so apparently those two weeks make a big difference to the Cubs. If that’s true, I’d expect some news to come out of the meeting. If the Commission approves the Cubs’ plans, I believe there would still be aspects requiring City Council approval, but things would be looking good. For the Cubs’ part, they’ve long said that, unless this approval process moves rapidly, they cannot have the confidence they need to start work immediately after this season ends.

Taking the political temperature, I’d point out the following: last week, Tom Ricketts met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where it was reported that Emanuel agreed to “fast track” the renovation approvals – at least with respect to the changes to Wrigley Field, itself (i.e., the stuff within the ambit of the Commission). The Landmarks Commission has nine members who are appointed by … the Mayor.

I am cautiously optimistic about the outcome of this meeting.

  • Chris

    The Landmarks Commission may OK the giant video screen, but the National Park Service is going to have a problem with it if historic tax credits are involved.

    • TWC

      Wrigley isn’t a National Landmark. It’s a City Landmark. While Ricketts applied to have Wrigley listed, and while it’s eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (and has been for >25 years), no such designation has yet been granted, and no federal tax credits are available for it.

    • Chris

      That’s why I used the word “if.”

      • DarthHater

        Any why bother trying to become informed, when it’s so much easier to preface false speculation with a handy “if”?

    • Scotti

      Actually, the “historic tax credits” thing isn’t an issue. The tax credits merely go toward the parts that fit (rebuilding historic Wrigley Field) and not to the parts that don’t (Jumbotron, Captain Morgan, etc.) It’s standard operational procedure.

  • Kevin

    The Cubs simply want this turtle paced approval process to move a little quicker. I can understand if ALL proposals in Chicago moved at the same pace but that’s not the case. Additionally, the city cried “We’re Broke” and refused to help fund the Wrigley Renovation then goes and approves a project for DePaul University.

  • Scotti

    For the record, Wrigley is “landmarked” on a very few items. Signage/ads is NOT included. The HEIGHT of the walls IS included but only as a measure to prevent a roof from being added. The INSIDE of the walls (the distinct shape) is included but is not threatened. The Marquee and the Scoreboard are included.

    The Cubs didn’t believe that they needed Landmark Commission approval for the work done in right field but went to the Commission (eventually) just to avoid rocking the boat. There really is nothing here for the Commission (as the Cubs have said).

    The hold up on any of that work is ALWAYS the City itself because they can simply deny permits to do the work.

  • Scotti

    Off the too of my head, ONLY the following are landmarked: bricks/ivy, the unique shape of the outfield wall, the red Marquee, the old Scoreboard and the height of the stadium walls (to prevent a roof from being built).

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