On Thursday, the Landmarks Commission will take on the question of the proposed outfield signage at Wrigley Field, a question they punted two weeks ago when Alderman Tom Tunney expressed his disapproval of the Cubs’ plan for 6,000 square foot JumboTron in left field and 1,000 square foot see-through sign in right field. Tunney, of course, has known of the Cubs’ plans for outfield signage for months, as it was part of the framework agreement to which he agreed. That said, he’s always felt the Cubs’ desired sizes were too large, and he wanted a little more time to convince the Cubs of their folly.
We’ll see how the meeting goes. We’ve heard nothing on this issue since a suggestion out of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s camp that the Mayor is growing frustrated with Alderman Tunney, whose support of the renovation project in his ward is not strictly necessary, but would certainly be politically helpful.
In the meantime, the Chicago Tribune obtained a bit more information on the aspects of the renovation that the Landmarks Commission did approve last time around, and a new article offers details on the signage approvals the Cubs requested for the interior of Wrigley Field (other than the two outfield signs).
Given the breadth of the Cubs’ requests, I reckon the article is going to get some negative attention. Among the items requested by the Cubs: signs on top of The Old Scoreboard in center (including a sign on top of the clock), a “bush” sign manicured into the hedges in center, mesh ads along the basket on the outfield walls, and additional ads along the brick walls along the foul lines. That’s all in addition to the new LED board in left field, and the added ribbon LED board(s) along the grandstand.
If that sounds like a scorched earth approach to covering every bit of available space at Wrigley, it kind of is. But, before you freak out, understand that the Cubs were simply offering “everything [they] could think of” in terms of advertising they might want in the future, according to Cubs VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green, because that’s what the Commission asked the Cubs to provide. What the Commission was putting together, and what it ultimately approved, was merely a “master sign program” that sets the outer perimeter of what the Cubs could eventually ask to install. There would still be additional steps before the Cubs could actually place the ads.
That is all to say, if you hear folks talking about the Cubs wanting to drape every square inch of Wrigley in ads, that isn’t quite what’s happening here, and you’re encouraged to read the Tribune report.
Although it’s possible that, in the future, the advertising at Wrigley could get out of control, for now, the Cubs are just looking to preserve their options. They understand that the historic character of Wrigley Field is not something to be destroyed with garish advertisements. But the Cubs also understand that, as times change and revenue needs increase, they have to explore the best possible approach to bringing in dollars – especially if they’re going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to stay at Wrigley in the first place.