Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: No Ice Rink This Year Means Renovation Starts, Right? Eh …

respect wrigleyLast week, a couple of news outlets reported that the Chicago Cubs would not be implementing the ice rink that has lived outside of Wrigley Field during the holiday season since 2009. This is a newsworthy bummer in its own right, as the rink was a neat addition to the Wrigleyville community, presented with a Cubs touch.

Far more newsworthy in these reports, however, was the word that the reason the ice rink would not be erected this year is because the renovation of Wrigley Field was going to be underway, and would make the rink infeasible this year.

Wait … wait! Drop the balloons, throw the confetti, raise an Old Style Bud Light! The renovation is officially beginning this offseason, despite all those pesky indications in the last few weeks that the tedious sparring with the city, the neighborhood, and the rooftops had cost the Cubs yet another construction year! Hooray!

Right?

No. Sorry. My internal Story Size Meter™ told me that, if the ice rink had been cancelled this year because of renovation work, the whole story would have been a much, much larger beast than a couple brief mentions in the local news. Alas, I was right.

I reached out to the Cubs for comment, and team VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green confirmed that the rink will not be making an appearance at Wrigley this year, and it is related to the renovation.

However, the decision on the rink necessarily comes much earlier in the year than the holiday season, because installing the rink requires a significant allocation of resources. For that reason, the Cubs made the decision to forgo the rink this year – at the time they had to make the decision – because they were hopeful that the renovation would be underway (which, again, would make the rink infeasible). In other words, the fact that the rink isn’t happening this year is not a confirmation that the renovation will begin in earnest once the season ends. It was just the unfortunate victim of bad timing and difficult choices.

The good news, though, is that Green says the Cubs remain hopeful that construction work on the renovation project could begin this offseason. Although all other indications – including from Theo Epstein earlier in the week – are that the renovation will not start this year, it’s nice to hear that the official party line is that there is still some hope.

That said, Green reiterates that there are a number of outstanding issues to be resolved before the Cubs can begin work. At last check, the Ricketts Family was still waiting on an agreement from the rooftop owners that they will not sue once the project begins. I’d say it’s a fair bet that we don’t see any significant work this offseason, given the delays.

And, this year, we won’t even be able to skate away our blues, a la the Peanuts gang.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

34 responses to “Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: No Ice Rink This Year Means Renovation Starts, Right? Eh …”

  1. MJ

    It’s a bad look to not renovate the clubhouse this year. They’re going to open up that big, new, sprawling, state of the art spring training facility in a few months…then have to come back to a shoebox.

  2. Kyle

    Am I reading that wrong or did they decide they couldn’t even afford the ice rink?

  3. miggy80

    To me it sounded like the kid who takes the ball home when they didn’t get their way. More power to them.

  4. Clark Addison

    The clubhouse renovation was scheduled to be the first item in the Wrigley rebuild. It won’t bring in any revenue. So Theo is right and the work should begin after the last pitch has been thrown.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “The clubhouse renovation (and Jumbotron) was scheduled to be the first item(s) in the Wrigley rebuild”

  5. CubFan Paul

    When are the new mock signs going up again?

  6. cubfanincardinalland

    Could the Cubs have botched this whole thing any worse? A complete and utter fiasco. Destroying the franchise.
    Cardinals will be opening their new ballpark village outside left field next spring. Thousands more rooftops seats, a lot of new signage, a team hall of fame to visit. Every new buck going to the ball club. When will the operating owner of the Cubs wake up, listen to his brother, and do what needs to be done?

    1. Frank

      If you want a park with all the bells and whistles, then Cicero has land available.

    2. mjhurdle

      You lost all credibility in your post by using Ballpark Village as a frame of reference.

      If a 3 year delayed, 1/6 the size of the original agreement project is your idea of a well-run development, then i really don’t know what to say to you.

      It was originally set to open in 2011 at a cost of 600-700 million, since then, the project sat dormant for almost a year, had investors pull out, got re-scaled multiple times, and is now finally set to open a much smaller version (around 100 million if i remember correctly) in 2014, with hopes to someday get back to the original scope.
      Ballpark Village has been a joke even to Cardinal fans for the last 4 years.

      1. cubfanincardinalland

        It was originally supposed to be a massive retail shopping development. With the recession that idea died on the vine.
        Cardinals as usual did whatever they wanted, told the city to stick it. Now the development is pretty much isolated to only things that add revenue to the Cardinals. It is nothing like what was advertised when they were getting funding for the new stadium. Ricketts family could learn a lot.

        1. frank

          The political game is probably played a little differently in Chicago than it is in St. Louis.

        2. mjhurdle

          It was actually originally designed to include a large number of Office spaces and Condos, not primarily retail space.

          Regardless, the project itself was, and to some extent still is, a mess. The Cardinals are just now deciding to do anything with it. They were originally content to simply take the tax credits and let it be softball fields while running out the excuse (valid or not) that the economy prohibited them from doing any development.

          I guess i am confused as to what you are referencing them for. If you aren’t using them as an example of a well-run project, then was your point that the Cubs should tell the city to “stick it” and simply not do anything for the next 3 years?

      2. DarthHater

        “You lost all credibility in your post by using Ballpark Village as a frame of reference.”

        Nah, all credibility was already long gone after all the whining hyperbole in the first three sentences.

  7. Kevin

    The Cubs are not investing a dime in any part of the renovation until they have assurance that the Rooftop owners promise not to sue.

    1. jon

      What’s the Cubs “end game” here? Do they want a verbal commitment from them? Or do they want a signed statement of some sort? I don’t think you’ll get the latter.

      1. DarthHater

        Ultimately, the Cubs will want it in writing that the rooftop owners agree to accept some consideration offered by the Cubs in satisfaction of any claims they might otherwise have arising out of the Cubs’ putting up the new outfield signs.

        I think there’s a decent chance that such an agreement could be reached, but the Cubs will have to offer something to get it. The ROs have no reason to just give away their right to sue for nothing. My guess is that the ROs will ask for some kind of extension of their current contract. If the Cubs entirely reject that option and signal that they plan to shut down the rooftops after the current contract expires, then I think there will be no way to reach an agreement.

        1. Die hard

          Wipe your hands after that butt pull?

          1. DarthHater

            Couldn’t. Your head was in the way.

  8. Frank

    No matter what the Cubs say publicly, I think the non ice rink was a gentile politically correct way of saying…up yours for all your non support. Can’t blame them a bit.

  9. Robert w Pfauth cedar spring / grand rapids michigan

    Well the Ricketts family now needs to tell the roof top owners we still have a offer from another location of free land and it would make more sense to move the cubs where we can have a stadium to are liking and don’t have to deal with you but we will put a farm team here for your pleasure : )

    1. cubbiesOHcubbies

      I kind of thought there was already a farm team playing at Wrigley?????

  10. Drew

    So I guess no Wrigley Renovations for the next 10 years as that’s how much time is left on the Rooftop Agreement.

    10 MORE years of below average baseball.

  11. Robert w Pfauth cedar spring / grand rapids michigan

    Meaning moving the major leuge team from wriggly to the area where the united center is then the Ricketts can do what they want and im sure the city well not want that to happen lol so if the rooftop owners want to play hard ball then bring it the cubs move they put a farm team there and fix it up a bit and the roof top owners can kiss the Ricketts family ass right out of wriggly vile : )

  12. Aaron

    The Ricketts are attempting to be smart business people here. Secure the additional revenue sources, which come in the form of a new ad sign in right field and the Jumbotron in left, then do the improvements once they have more cash coming in. Those new signs probably won’t happen until the club has assurances from the rooftop owners that they won’t sue. In the meantime, there may be no real improvements to Wrigley Field or the team for the 2014 season. The main reason…they don’t have the money to do it.

    The Cubs are the 2nd worse team this season in the National League. Ticket sales are down already, which means less revenue for the club. If this continues into next season, what’s to say the the Cubs ownership won’t say that don’t have money for improve the stadium or the roster, even if they get the new sign in right field and the Jumbotron. I don’t think many of us thought we would have a new owner that would need to create revenue through the ball club BEFORE improving it and the stadium.

    The Ricketts may have made their money in the securities and investment banking, but what I’ve learned over the past few years that they are also great as SALES. They have given the fans a real sell-job of giving us the impression that they had the means and will to create a championship caliber ball club. What are the results to date? How are things looking in 2014 so far?

    1. willis

      Awful and awful?

  13. cubbiesOHcubbies

    By any chance, has anyone heard a ballpark figure on what kind of revenue this sign in right field will create???? Are we talking 10 Million per year??? 2 Million per year??? Just trying to figure out what revenue they are expecting out of this Budweiser partnership. Thanks for any info somebody may have.

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