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respect wrigleyToday, the Zoning Committee unanimously approved the Wrigley Field renovation and development plan a day before it heads to the full City Council for a vote. But it did so only after a handful of changes.

The Mayor’s Office, in conjunction with Alderman Tom Tunney, announced (while the Committee meeting was going on) that the plan has been changed, such that a few of the issues with which Tunney has had a problem for a while now have been modified per his requests, according to the Tribune. (UPDATE: It now sounds like the Cubs agreed to the changes, and were included int he discussions.)

First, a pedestrian bridge that was to span Clark Street from the proposed hotel to the proposed plaza has been “deferred indefinitely,” which sounds like a nice way of saying it’s DOA. Tunney’s objection was couched as a matter of public safety, because apparently every bridge in the city near bars is subject to numerous random beer throwing events, but would seem to really be about not funneling Wrigleyville patrons into the Cubs’ plaza. Had that happened, those patrons would be more likely to spend money there, rather than the various local commercial establishments. I understand Tunney’s opposition, as well as the Cubs’ desire. Personally, I liked the bridge and would have found it convenient.

Second, the Mayor indicated that there will be a 10-year moratorium on new outfield signs, except for the two (the JumboTron in left and the large advertising sign in right) that have already been approved. Recall, the Master Sign Program, approved by the Landmarks Commission, would have allowed the Cubs to add additional signs, including on and around The Old Scoreboard.

Finally, the Cubs have agreed to defer the patio off of the hotel (which would have overhung residential Patterson Avenue), and the parties will continue to discuss where the entrance to the hotel will be. Alderman Tunney wants it on Addison or Clark, rather than Patterson. Presumably the Cubs would prefer to reserve that frontage for commercial space, rather than using it on a big hotel entrance. Once again, I understand where both sides are coming from.

Alderman Tunney, with these changes in place, reportedly now will sign on to the plan when it goes before City Council tomorrow.

So, where does this leave the renovation? Well, it sounds like, from Mayor Emanuel’s and Alderman Tunney’s perspectives, the deal is now done, and will be approved by City Council.

We haven’t yet, however, heard from the Cubs about these changes. It’s hard to tell from the Tribune’s report whether they’re on board, or if this was done unilaterally. The report says that the changes, and Tunney’s approval, came after a day of closed door meetings between the Alderman, the Mayor’s team, and the rooftop owners around Wrigley. That probably tells you everything you need to know about what’s driving the decisions in this process, but it also suggests that the rooftop owners – with a 10-year sign moratorium in place (which conveniently lasts until the end of their contract with the Cubs) – will no longer sue when the Cubs put up the two outfield signs. Obviously no one can guarantee that at this point, but it seems plausible, given how things have played out. The Mayor’s statement apparently suggests those negotiations are ongoing.

In that case, maybe the Cubs would be on board with these changes, if it avoids the risk of litigation. Indeed, the Sun-Times report on today’s events suggests that may well be what’s happening, though there remains work to be done on just where the sign in right field would be located (the Cubs may build an overhang all the way over Sheffield Avenue so that the sign would block no outfield views at all … but then there’s the issue of compensation to the City for taking additional air space. It sounds like that fight/discussion will not hold up approval of the overall plan, or hold up construction. But you never know.).

We’ll see what the Cubs’ response is, if they make a formal one, and then we’ll see what happens at City Council tomorrow.

UPDATE: The DNAinfo write-up makes it sound as though the Cubs are, indeed, on board with these changes. It does have a quote from Cubs VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green, however, saying that the Cubs have received no assurances from the rooftops that they will not sue. So, to the extent that the sign moratorium was designed to prevent a lawsuit, that has not been directly negotiated with the Cubs.

UPDATE 2: Since today is all about updates … just a comment: I wouldn’t go so far as to say, as some of you are, that the Cubs “lost” in these negotiations. We don’t know how much the Cubs expected to get, and to what extent they “over asked” for various items. It’s possible that the process has landed right where the Cubs wanted it, even if they cannot concede that publicly. We’re not really in a position to know.

  • aCubsFan

    It’s time to move.

  • Mike

    Move. Now.

  • iowacubs

    How can 3 non Cub parties change the Cubs renovation plans? I.m officially onboard the “let’s move” train!

  • Tax Cat

    This will never end – the city will just keep moving the goal posts.

  • Sandberg

    This is infuriating.

  • MichiganGoat

    Wow so Tunney wins?

  • Spriggs

    Sure sounds like Tunney won this. Against all odds. Ricketts cannot be happy. Surely he didn’t expect to lose this much.

  • Matt

    I feel like it would be a good time, if any, to alter/update the cubs logo once this renovation is completed. New team, new stadium, new look. It would be another thing to get fans excited.

  • cubsin

    Brett, please make sure you let us know where to send our contributions when the next primary election comes around for Tunney’s seat. The Cubs should have the right to run their business as they see fit, and the Wrigleyville residents should have an alderman who represents their views, not those of the rooftop and tavern owners.

    • TWC

      Seems a bit absurd to me that a guy from downstate IL is so sure that the duly-elected-and-unopposed-since-2007 alderman *doesn’t* represent their views, but whatevs.

      • cubsin

        TWC, I’m not trying to disenfranchise you. If you’re happy with him, give him your vote and donate to his campaign. But I feel that he’s a tool of the rooftop and bar owners, who would fund his campaign quite generously if necessary, which has made it impractical for a private citizen to oppose him. If enough Wrigleyville residents and Cubs fans across the nation supported another candidate’s campaign, perhaps Tunney might at least take a broader view concerning the value of Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

  • Nick

    I don’t see why allowing a zoning change from a 50 foot hotel to a 91 foot hotel doesn’t come with some negotiations associated with the Cubs proposed design of the hotel. These all seem like reasonable requests from the neighborhood, particularly homeowers (and season ticket holders) on a residental street like Patterson (which is me).

    If the Cubs could produce anything that shows making these changes will eat into the profits of the hotel or why these changes would hurt the bottom line, then I’m up for negotations, but the request was made of them on these issues months ago and we haven’t seen anything from them to show that they looked into these changes.

    • iowacubs

      The people knew Wrigley was there when they moved to Wrigleyville.

      • Nick

        Yes, I did. The Ricketts also knew that they bought a field that is in the middle of a neighborhood (unlike any other field in the majors) and the there are unquie features that come with it.

        I don’t have a problem with any of the changes to the stadium. It is all the things with the hotel (that is not there and not zoned for what the Cubs ARE getting). I am actually for the hotel, but the entrance, patio, and bridge are not things that are great for a residential street like Patterson.

        • TWC

          “It is all the things with the hotel (that is not there and not zoned for what the Cubs ARE getting).”

          I think that’s what a lot of the MOVE. NOW. folks aren’t getting. The Cubs want to change the zoning rules of a piece of property they bought. The City was willing to allow that, for a price.

          What bothers me most of all about today’s decision is that it incorporates limits on outfield signage into the conditions of approval. Seems like the hotel entrance and bridge decisions are more relevant to the proposed zoning change than signs in the outfield are.

          • Nick

            Agree the outfield signage part is troubling. If I were the Cubs I would have wanted an agreement from the rooftop owners that there will be a lawsuit filed.

          • MichiganGoat

            Agreed the signage issue could (more likely will) cause problems when the new TV contract is negotiated. The bridge being lost is minor compared to the signage issue.

          • Mike

            It’s not so much about revenue generation, or ability to run the park the way the club wants. It’s about the fact Wrigley has not been shown to be the place where you can field a winning team. These attempts at renovation…. they are like this joke about a hedgehog, who was getting pricked, scratched, but still was trying to make out with a cactus.

    • Mike

      Then move!!!

      • Nick

        Why? I am happy with my place. I love being in my seats within 5 minutes of leaving my house. I also like the idea of having a first class hotel in the area (which doesn’t currently exist between Lakeview and the Gold Coast).

        If a new hotel was being built (with a change to zoning that is being approved) at the end of your block, would you not be concerned about things like where the entrance will be and having a beer patio that looks into your condo?

        I’m happy that this is getting done, I want to be living there and sitting in my season ticket seats for a world series game.

        • BT

          So you are basically saying you like all the pros that come with living next to the park, but you are unwilling to put up with any inconveniences?

          • Nick

            No, I’m okay with the changes that they are making to the triangle property and everything that has to do with the stadium itself. All of my concerns have to do with the hotel that is being built.

          • Nick

            Also, I am willing to put up with the inconviences of living next to the park, I do it everyday now. I could list the reasons why we almost didn’t buy the place because of the inconviences, but at the end of the day the positives outweighed the negatives, so I’m not sure why you are saying I’m not willing to live with the inconviences that come with living next to the park. It is all about the hotel details (which in other posts, I’ve said I am for, with the changes that it seems the Cubs have agreed to).

            • Michael

              Nick…used to live in Wrigleyville before I decided on a little more property in Lincoln Square, but you nailed it.

              I will add…I’m happy the Chicago Cubs remain the CHICAGO Cubs.

    • aCubsFan

      In my opinion, the hotel is totally separate to that of Wrigley renovations for a code and approval standpoint, but Tunney has tied the two.

      I believe why so many Cubs fans are so upset with Rahm, Tunney, the RTOs and the Lakeview Community Assocation has nothing to do with the hotel and bridge, but the fact that the RTOs can through Tunney and the Mayor force a moratorium on the signage is incredible. If no one sitting on the rooftops can see the scoreboard clock says Rolex why should they or the city care if Ricketts and the Cubs put signage on the scoreboard. Furthermore, if they can’t see the outfield wall why is it of their concern that the Cubs put mats on the outfield walls with signage or put signage on the basket rimming the wall.

      So it seems a bit heavy handed by the city, Rahm, Tunney and the RTOs to force a 10-year signage moratorium.

      • TWC

        “In my opinion, the hotel is totally separate to that of Wrigley renovations for a code and approval standpoint, but Tunney has tied the two.”

        It may be that the City encouraged that the Cubs package all the disparate elements of the proposed renovations together, but there’s no evidence of that. What exists is a single application covering the hotel, the triangle development(s), the numerous renovations to the stadium, and a signage program. The makes it all fair game for conditions/modifications. As I said below, the Cubs probably could have avoided this had they filed separate applications for each desired development, but that’s no guarantee that this process would have been any easier for them.

  • Vinestal

    They’ve made to many concessions if you ask me. They should have made a stand o the bridge and the signage. It’s beyond ridiculous that they are completely footing the bill but have to cave to the Alderman’s stupid demands at every turn.

  • Cheryl

    I would hope this would be the last straw. The mayor sold the cubs out. Tunney is probably happy as a clam. The message is pretty clear – MOVE!!!

  • Andrew

    Same old bs. Just pisses me off. No other team has to deal with this shit

  • Spriggs

    The next big revenue generating disappointment will be the TV/cable deal when they try to get that done.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think you nailed that.

      • MichiganGoat

        THE HORROR THE HORROR

    • Mike

      I imagine they’ll sign with CSN, and Comcast will jack up cable price by $10.

      • Joe N

        Even if they don’t sign with CSN, Comcast will jack the cable price up by $10…

        • Mike

          Fair point.

    • aCubsFan

      Without all the possible signage it will definitely negatively impact the TV rights agreements. Just having a stationary sign in right and the Jumbotron left is not enough signage for TV.

  • cubzforlife

    I believe the Cubs over demanded and got exactly what they wanted. Or almost what they wanted. These are smart guys and after the initial mistakes they created a long con for Alderman Tunney. Big Hotel, crazy big signs everywhere, and the green light from the city. Cubs Win! I will miss the old park and am excited for the future.

    • Billy B.

      That could be true but I’m not sure I’m buying into all of it. I’m sure the Cubs did ask for more than want they wanted but from reading this everyday it seems like they made way to many concessions. Tunney is a braunbag and played the political game pretty well. At this point I honestly wouldn’t be opposed to a move from the City

  • Jed Jam Band

    How in the world could this happen? In a time where sports franchises are ripping the public off by asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for overly gaudy, superbly expensive new stadiums…the Cubs simply asked to be able to spend half a billion dollars of their OWN MONEY to pay for changes to the ballpark and the surrounding areas that would allow for their business to thrive and for the Cubs to be sustainable in Wrigleyville. Instead, the rooftops and Tunney have thrown a collective hissy-fit, as they apparently missed the fact that A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM PLAYS IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. I’m so sorry about that, but let’s see what kind of business you do when the Cubs leave!

  • Andrew

    Move! What has wrigley done for the cubs? Nothing. Who gives a shit about a dump of a ballpark. By far worst stadium in the bigs Hey who doesn’t want to pay a ridiculous price to pee in a trough, squeeze into an undersized seat next to some sweaty ass meatball, have your view blocked by some dumbass person that has to get up every inning , and watch a horrible team ? Screw that

  • Ralph

    Allow the homeless to move into Wrigley. I’m sure the neighbors would love that!

  • iowacubs

    What gets me is that it seems like the rooftop owners are getting to much of a say. What about the other 100 buisness owners that only exist cause of the Cubs? I.e.. Cubbie Bear, Billy Goats and all the other Cubs related buisnesses

  • Carytid62

    Jesus. The amount of ridiculous overreaction to a f’n bridge an some signage is ridiculous. This was a fair deal for a zoning change, which, if you’ve ever tried to get one, ALWAYS comes with concessions. The Cubs understood this. They’ve gotten almost everything they want. Get over it.

  • Nick

    Update 2 – Brett you are correct on this. Based on meeting and emails I’ve had with the Cubs they understood their designs were proposals and that they were looking for “win-win” on all sides. I don’t see how losing a bridge, a patio, and moving a hotel entry turns this into a loss from the Cubs side. I think that having a 10 year hold on additional signs without an agreement not to sue is a much bigger issue than the things related to the hotel.

  • MichiganGoat

    Where do we stand with the Triangle building and plaza?

    • Nick

      I have not heard of any changes to the Cubs plans on this (which again also includes a zoning chage for the office building). As far as I know the Cubs are getting everything they want with these pieces.

      • TWC

        I just skimmed the staff report that contains the Cubs’ proposal. The triangle plaza and related office building are contained therein, as are the bump outs and air rights changeroos that relate to the extension of the rear wall of the ballpark. I would note, too, that a full (proposed) sign program is included in the application, which makes any changes and/or moratoriums fair game for the Zoning Commission’s consideration.

  • Kevin F.

    Imagine if Daley was still mayor.

    • Mike

      I imagine in many ways he still is.

  • cubzforlife

    That was Rickett’s first mistake. Not hiring Bill Daley’s law firm to handle this mess. Rich was still mayor when T.R. bought the team. Could of gotten money from the tax and a big stamp on the plans. The Attorney’s would of spoken a different form of english than Tom was used to but would of gotten the job done.

  • Cheryl

    Brett is right. We don’t know the negotiations that took place but its hard to believe that it was what the Ricketts wanted since they were excluded from the discussions with the mayor, Tunney and the roof top owners.
    Have the Ricketts begun any of the renovations yet? If they haven’t they could cancel their plans and probably find a more hospitable environment elsewhere. There’s no need for them to continue to take part in what’s happening.
    Someone suggested hiring Daily’s firm. They could still do that in terms of smoothing their way to exit Wrigley. But in the past they’ve gone along with whatever the city throws their way and they’ll probably just accept this.

  • MJ

    For sure, Tunney opposed the bridge for dumb reasons. It would have been a cool feature. But, I don’t see how not having it would hamper the Cubs’ ability to maximize their earning potential off the hotel. They will still make a mint off that place.

  • The Dude

    In the end, the Cubs, and Ricketts did very well. They reached very high and landed where I never thought possible five years ago. I’m just so impressed with all the positive influence this ownership is having on the franchise. It’s a rebuild in the most fundamentally ground up way and there’s just so many arrows pointing up right now. From the Carribean to Chicago this is a team deserving of it’s great fan base. The city of Chicago wins, as well, and I commend Tunney for negotiating hard to the last detail. No hard feelings should be held by fans. Tunney protected his constituency and Ricketts was allowed to invest in a way that will be a positive for the city and probably increase the franchise’s value three fold… and hopefully bring the series to Wrigley. I’m happy with the outcome!

  • Kevin

    The Cubs need two things in place before the renovation begins; 1) Get in writing that the rooftop owners will not file any lawsuits, and 2) Fully understand the potential loss of tv revenue due to less signage, more signs = larger tv contract. If the Cubs get #1 and are ok with #2 then start the renovation, if not, put plan “A” on hold until all other options are analyzed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You don’t lose TV revenue because of fewer signs in the outfield. You lose the revenue associated with those signs (which can come at a premium *because* of the new TV deal).

      • aCubsFan

        Actually you’re right and wrong.

        Ad rates are a function to market size and TV ratings. TV ratings are highest during prime time (7pm – 10pm central) and when the product is at its best. That’s why the Cubs want a winning team on the field in 2015.

        The Cubs could command a premium for the signage based on the viewership and ratings related to a TV contract, but since the Cubs didn’t exactly get the best of deal on expanding the number of night games, that is going to cause them not to be able to receive maximum premium ad rates.

        There is also a relationship to the value of the TV contract based on the amount of in-game advertising opportunities, the amount of viewership at the time of broadcast and how much TV networks can charge for advertising.

        Since the Cubs now have a moratorium on signage for 10 years and are highly limited by the number of night games the combination will negatively impact the TV rights value, especially if that moratorium includes the scoreboard clock, outfield wall padding, and basket or even the expansion of the back stop advertising.

        This is why MLB requested teams install the back stop advertising rolls because it increases the value of the TV contract — and increasing the number of advertising opportunities.

        Why do you think the NBA is placing advertising on the stadium floors starting next year or why their uniforms will begin to have advertising on them? Because it increases the value of the TV contract and charge a premium for the space because of the TV contract. In turn the teams and the leagues can charge a premium for that advertising because the larger viewership in prime time.

        Why do you think the NHL and their teams are increasing the number and types of advertising on the dashers? It’s certainly not because fans in the stadium can see them, it’s because of TV.

        It was also about TV rights contract value when MLB started limiting the number of Cubs games on WGN America since other teams were complaining about the Cubs being a competitor in their local market at night. It was roughly that time when cable TV started taking over more games.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m not wrong about my narrow point: a television network isn’t going to pay *more* for the right to broadcast Cubs games because the outfield is plastered with a million signs unless those signs displayed advertising that was sold by the network.

  • solomo11

    All these comments promoting the Cubs to leave Wrigley Field astound me.

    I for one see Wrigley Field and the Cubs as inherently tied. It may be nostalgia from gazing out onto the field the first time as a six year old. It may be hearing stories going back four generations of my family going to Wrigley Field, ever since it opened.

    Maybe it’s different for Cubs fans that don’t go to Wrigley that often, or that don’t have generational ties to Chicago. But there’s something special about a place that still feels like home, in September when the Cubs are 25 games back.

    When the Cubs finally win the World Series, and it’s in Wrigley Field, it’ll be both awesome and somber, knowing that I am experiencing something my relatives waited so long to see.

    • Michael

      solomo gets it.

      Most importantly, Wrigley Field is located in Chicago, Illinois. No matter your thoughts on my fair and grand city, a move to suburbia with its strip malls and dulling attitudes would absolutely kill me.

      Would I remain a Cub fan? Yes.
      Would I retain my season tickets? No.
      Would I invite friends and out of town guests to a game? Jury is out, but probably not.

      However…the bottomline is that by tomorrow afternoon, the city council will approve the deal, Wrigley will be renovated (for better or worse), and the Chicago Cubs will remain in Chicago.

      Win, Win, and Triple effing Win!

      • Mike

        That reminds me of all the talk in December and January about how “we’ll boycott this hockey season”.

        • Michael

          I never said I was boycotting the Cubs. I was saying I wasn’t going to keep my season tickets. I get on the L and take it 5 stops to a game. No way I’m driving or taking Metra or whatever crappy transportation thing the Rosemont Mayor dreamed up in his little brain.

          Doesn’t matter…I’ll be riding 5 stops to a game for a very long time.

          • Mike

            By the same token I won’t be driving to the L stop, and ride a crappy train for a hour, when I can comfortably get to Miller Park in the same amount of time. You realize what a pain in the butt getting to a game is if you are not red or brown line, right?

          • Benjamin

            FWIW, Rosemont is Blue Line accessible. I live on the west side, and Western/Damen to Rosemont is about a 25 minute train, which is actually less time than it takes to get to Wrigley from here.

    • Mike

      Hey, if you are content with the Cubs being 25 back every year – more power to you. But you have to understand – the era of free ride by virtue of being exposed to a national audience via WGN is over. Soon all games are going to be on cable, and Cubs will have to earn money the same way everyone else does – by winning.

      • solomo11

        While I’d rather there not be a jumbotron, I accept why its going in. It’s not going to stop me from going to Cubs games at all.

        What I don’t understand is the people who don’t understand that there are going to be Zoning issues in one of the most popular neighborhoods in the 3rd largest city in the country. What makes Wrigley Field special is that it isn’t near Chicago, it’s entirely integrated within the city, and the Lakeview neighborhood.

        The Ricketts are getting a fair deal, and Wrigley Field is going to be a better place. But seeing it as a reason to leave is unfathomably stupid to me. If you don’t expect a bureaucratic mess in Chicago, you don’t understand the city.

        Wrigley Field is part of the heart and soul that makes up the Cubs, and for people to dismiss it this easily is disappointing.

        • Mike

          I think you don’t understand my primary point. I don’t want Cubs in Wrigley. I understand how it’s unique, and how it’s all these things that Yankee or Busch stadiums can never be, I just happen to believe that it’s a bad park that puts Cubs at disadvantage and other considerations are secondary.

        • Tommy

          Understanding that there will be a bureaucratic mess in Chicago doesn’t mean it’s right and certainly doesn’t mean we should agree with it. To imply what the Cubs have had to go through while at the same time using their own money to enhance their own ball club as SOP is ridiculous.

  • butlerdawgs

    Couldn’t agree more with the second update. Covering local government for two years, I’ve noticed that a lot of times people will propose what their dream scenario is knowing that it will change as it goes through the process. I’m sure the Cubs knew they wouldn’t get everything they wanted.

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