respect wrigleyAs I said earlier, even pre-ordained commission meetings can surprise you when it comes to the Chicago Cubs’ efforts to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the surrounding area. Today’s meeting did indeed surprise, and the man behind the surprise was exactly who you’d expect: Alderman Tom Tunney.

So what was the surprise?

Well, it was Tunney saying this at the close of testimony about the renovation plan: “We’ve now arrived at the point where I have no objections to this project.”

Yeah, well you just try to fight this … er. Wait. What?

I would imagine that, in the coming days – and leading up to a vote before full City Council as early as next Wednesday, July 24 – we’ll learn precisely what precipitated Tunney’s apparent change of heart, and it could well be that he’s gotten his way on his remaining demands. Indeed, the Plan Commission approved the Cubs’ plan today, as expected, but there was apparently chatter that the pedestrian bridge over Clark will still be discussed.

What about the demand for a 10-year moratorium on additional outfield signs beyond the two large ones already approved by the Landmarks Commission? It’s unclear if Tunney’s getting that one, but the Sun-Times reports that Tunney said the Mayor assured him there will “no additional outfield signs for many years to come if we pass these.” That’s sufficiently flabby that it could mean almost anything, so I guess we’ll see.

To put this as plainly as I can: if Tunney is truly on board, and if the sides have come to an understanding about the various outstanding issues … then this thing is happening. Never say “done deal” in Chicago, so I won’t say it now. I’ll just keep saying things like “if this, then that.” But I feel as good about the renovation of Wrigley Field tonight as I’ve ever felt.

Don’t get lost in the mud associated with this long process: a well-done, fan-focused, revenue-generating renovation of Wrigley Field is among the three most important stories going on right now in the Cubs’ world (together with securing a well-paying new TV deal, and the acquisition/development of young players). Having this project completed is going to open up new streams of revenue that the Cubs’ brass has promised to put to use in the organization and on the field. You want to talk about doing a long-term rebuild the right way? This is a huge part of it, friends.


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