respect wrigleyYesterday, the Chicago Cubs secured the Landmarks Commission’s approval of “Class L” property tax status for Wrigley Field, which will pave the way to a tax incentive as the Cubs rehabilitate and renovate Wrigley Field.

The tax break, which is available by law to any number of other property owners, is designed to encourage the preservation of historically or architecturally significant buildings. In other words, if you’ve got a 100-year-old, one-of-a-kind baseball stadium with nets holding falling concrete crumbles, you’re probably exactly who this tax break was designed for. The Landmarks Commission agreed with respect to Wrigley Field, and the Cubs now get a touch more incentive to proceed with the comprehensive Wrigley Field renovation and development plan, which was approved by City Council last week.

Even if this weren’t a tax break that was available to any entity rehabbing an important historic facility, let’s not go crazy about the whole public subsidy piece of this. We’re talking about $8 million, spread over 12 years, and not kicking in for another five or six years. When you stack that against a $500 million, privately-funded project (which will, itself, generate far, far more tax revenue than that $8 million), it’s chump change. Further, the renovated Wrigley Field will actually net the county significantly more property tax over time, because Wrigley will be assessed at a much higher value.

In other words, the Cubs are getting a tax break available to everyone else when they do a project like this, and they’ll actually wind up paying more in tax after the project is done.

I’m not sure I’m even comfortable calling this a tax “break” anymore.

That all said, $8 million saved is $8 million earned, and I choose to think of this as a future reliever. (You know, inflation.)

You can read more about the approval process and the details of the historic aspects of the Wrigley renovation/restoration here in the Tribune or here in Crain’s.

The Class L property status will have to be approved by City Council as well, but that shouldn’t be an issue. In the interim, we continue to await a solution to the Cubs/rooftops standoff before the Cubs can begin construction. At least the sides appear to be working on a solution, as discussed yesterday, involving a patio deck behind right field.

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