As expected, today, the Chicago Landmarks Commission approved portions of the Chicago Cubs’ planned renovation of Wrigley Field. Which portions, you ask? Well, the non-controversial aspects.
Which is to say that the Commission did not decide yet on the proposed video board in left field or the advertising sign in right field. The Cubs have sought a 6000 square foot JumboTron in left field and a 1000 square foot advertising sign in right field. As part of the framework agreement between the Cubs, Alderman Tom Tunney and the Mayor, everyone agrees that the Cubs will get signs. The question is whether they’ll get them as big as they want them. The Landmarks Commission will reconvene on July 11th at their regularly-scheduled meeting to pass upon the signs. That’s going to be a very important meeting.
Although the Cubs today received approval on a large portion of the planned renovations – more about that in a moment – it may be moot without the outfield signage they want, which is to be erected, in part, to pay for the renovation, itself. In other words, it doesn’t do the Cubs much good to bump out the outfield walls to accommodate the outfield signage if there is no outfield signage to be had in the first place.
That’s why you should mark your calendar for July 11. That’s going to be a very important date in this process. Hopefully we’ll have heard of an agreed solution by then.
As for what the Landmarks Commission did approve today, it’s everything else in the renovation that touches upon the landmarked aspects of the ballpark. So, today’s approval included the outfield walls being bumped out (something Tunney today opposed despite previously expressing no concerns publicly), the dugouts and player facilities being renovated, additional signage within the ballpark, a two-story Captain Morgan Club attached to the park, and a new entrance on the west side of the park. Aspects of the renovation plan that were entirely outside of Wrigley – the hotel, the plaza, etc. – are not under the purview of the Landmarks Commission and were not considered today.
If you’re looking for the sum-up, here it is: today went well, which was how it was expected to go. It was an important step in the process, but, because the outfield signage had been excised from consideration, it was not expected to be a difficult step.
Night game ordinance? Flawed, but check.
In-stadium renovations? Partial check.
That’s where things stand so far. The next step is that July 11th meeting. From there, City Council will need to pass upon certain other aspects of the renovation, but, depending on how the July 11th meeting goes, that piece might be perfunctory by the time there’s a vote.