respect wrigleyEarlier this month, a report indicated that the Mayor’s Office would soon help the Chicago Cubs resolve a few smaller, outstanding Wrigley Field renovation issues. This week at City Council, it appears that Mayor Rahm Emanuel did just that, introducing a series of ordinances that will give the Cubs more flexibility in scheduling night games, and give them the ability to bump out the outfield walls without any additional compensation to the City.

On the night game issue, you may recall that, while the Cubs did receive an increase in allowable night games, there were problems in the version of the night game ordinance originally passed by City Council. First, the Cubs were limited to just two Saturday night games, which was a problem, given that MLB might request that the Cubs flip a Saturday day game to a night game after they’ve already used two. Second, the City retained all discretion in scheduling make-up games. To remedy these problems – apparently – the Cubs have given up three of their allowable night games in exchange for control over rescheduling and up to three Saturday night games. It doesn’t immediately seem like a fair trade (and I don’t claim to know the particulars), but this was something the Cubs affirmatively pushed for, so they must prefer this approach. They’ll still get to schedule 35 night games (an increase), but will now be permitted to flip up to 8 games (down from 11) when asked by MLB. Maybe the Cubs figured that 11 flips would not actually ever happen? So, in that way, they didn’t really give anything up? I’m just spitballin’.

On the outfield walls, the Cubs get to bump out the right field wall by seven feet and the left field wall by sixteen feet. That will create a larger footprint for Wrigley (i.e., more interior space for goodz), and will bring the outfield signage closer to the rooftop buildings, reducing the impact of those signs on the rooftop views.

On that latter point, there’s nothing new to report with respect to the Cubs’ long-standing position that they will not start construction until the rooftops agree not to sue. Interestingly, though, the Mayor included in his ordinances a request that the Cubs be permitted to put up their outfield signs with “minimal further red tape,” per the Tribune report. Does that mean the Mayor’s Office will actually be leaning, somehow, on the rooftops to get construction started? A source told the Sun-Times earlier this month that, because the Mayor was helping the Cubs on the above items, he expected them to get construction underway soon.

As these renovation pieces all seem to end these days: we’ll see what happens.

  • J

    just to be clear, when we say “bump out”, we are not talking about the playing field, we’re talking about the stands, correct?

    • MichiganGoat

      Precisely, this just adds more stuff below the bleachers dimensions of field do not change.

      • CubbiesOHCubbies

        By bumping the walls out, will this be solely used as a walkway behind the bleachers, or will additional seating be added as well?

        • Brett

          The seating already overhangs the wall, so this will just “fill in” that empty space. No new seats.

  • MichiganGoat

    Alright now we just await Tunney’s response, I wonder what he will be pissed about now.

  • mjhurdle

    Personally, i think they should have already thought about moving from Wrigley; but i understand the reasoning as to why that isn’t feasible.
    But, at what point does it become feasible?
    At what point do the Cubs start saying that this process, no matter where the blame lies, is just not worth having to go through every time you want to add/change something with your stadium?

    • Coldneck

      All possibilities need to be exhausted before considering a move. The 12% tax sucks, the regulations suck, the rooftop situation sucks, but overall the cache of Wrigley Field is still worth a great deal.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Que out of market posters commenting about how the Cubs should move to Suburb X.

    • Brains

      Yeah I think all of these anti-Wrigley field people are from St. Louis, or they’re commies or something.

      • ColoCubFan

        NOT a Cardinal fan! And I personally would not be all that upset about moving out of Wrigley field. The BS that this team has to go through for things that every other stadium already has is mind boggling.

        I’ve watched this team for over 40 years now melt in the August sun, while their competition plays those games at night after the main heat and humidity is over with.

        I don’t now, and never will, understand why the Cubs have to have approval from the City of Chicago regarding their schedule. Does any other city put this type of restriction on their teams? I honestly don’t know, so would appreciate feedback on whether or not this is commonplace.

        • Scotti

          No. It is not commonplace. No other major sports team has a host city that even tries to mess with their schedule. That was just an asinine move by Tunney and nice to see it get shot down.

          As to the benefits of Wrigley, while they are certain, there is a yearly cost to not being able to remodel to a more revenue enhancing environment. What has the cost per season been? Ad revenue alone has got to be WELL over $30 million (the team declined the $20 million dollar per year offer from the rooftops in a split second without even trying to negotiate for more). My guess would be $50 million per season lost from the lack of in-stadium ads. The lack of other amenities (external ads, hotel, hotel rental space, restaurants/bars, etc.) could double that figure. Times how many seasons? Just the four years that the Ricketts family has owned the Cubs would put the damage at roughly $200 million in internal ad revenue losses and somewhere around $300-400 in total amenity revenue losses.

          And if just some that money had been put back into the team (to create a more competitive team) the Cubs wouldn’t be losing out on another $75 million in gate and concessions (team figure per Sun Times) and likely double that in ad buys from the current (and future) ad streams (TV, radio, exclusivity deals (i.e. the deal with Budweiser), etc.). AND they would have been able to raise ticket/beer/etc. prices instead of stand pat.

          Wrigley is great, even if in need of a massive rebuild. Wrigley, in any condition, plus Chicago sucks donkey wang to high heaven. This from an “in market” fella who spent years living 5 miles west of Wrigley.

          • Brains

            This is ownership logic that has nothing to do with baseball or the experience of watching the Cubs. It’s so abstract you might as well be taking a Business 101 class. I go see the Cubs cause I like the players and the park is awesome. They have tons and tons and tons of money, among the most in the entire world and the history of sports to spend on the team. The rest of that is just garbage, in the same way that factories hire workers and then lay them off right before they qualify for medical insurance. It’s got nothing to do with anything but profiteering.

    • wilbur

      The cardinals are on their third stadium during the wrigley field life span, and they’ve been to 4 world series in the last 10 years. At some point even Cubs fans may realize that winning at Wrigley is not just unlikely, but borderline impossible. I do think that doing things like putting up jumbotrons and outfield signage to block the wind from the lake may help at the margins. But even with renovations, night games and close cooperation with the city, , you can only do so much. If you want to win in the modern game, you may need to play in a modern place, not a museum piece or tourist attraction.

      • I-CubsFanBoy

        Yeah, cause it’s not like we see a “museum” like Fenway Park in the post season almost every year or anything.

  • Kevin

    If St Louis can build rooftops just outside their new stadium, Ricketts can certainly do the same wherever they decide to relocate.

  • CubFan Paul

    I’d be willing to bet construction starts in early November. The outfield signage revenue is too much to pass on for 2014.

  • Kyle

    Completely unfounded, probably crazy speculation:

    If I were Tom Ricketts, and I was in a financial bind and couldn’t afford to go through with the renovations yet, I might try to hide that fact by refusing to go forward unless some other party agreed to a condition that they would never, ever agree to.

    • TWC

      I can’t wait — three weeks from now, in the comments below a new Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch article, someone will (possibly subconsciously) reference this comment as a rumor they’ve “been hearing for a while”.

    • Pat

      I do think the delays are more related to the fact they just admitted they only have one sponsor so far, than worrying too much about being sued by the rooftops. Despite claims that Ricketts’ will be spending “his own money” on this, it’s quite clear they are trying to get as much of that money from other people as possible (which is perfectly reasonable and expected, but does counter the narrative a bit).

      • Scotti

        Pat, are you referring to the exclusivity deal w Budweiser? I’m not altogether sure how that makes them a sponsor. It just means that their product will be featured exclusively in the ballpark. If/when the Cubs put up the video screen in left they’ll have no end of companies wanting to place their products there.

        • Pat

          They are a sponsor because they will be paying a ton of money for that exclusivity. So much that it wasn’t even worth it for Old Style to come to the table.

          • MichiganGoat

            The vendors can sell what ever they want the Bud deal is for exclusive signage and advertising rights for beer. All old style signs will be gone but there will still be vendors that sell it.

  • Kevin

    I think the Ricketts are simply just weighing out ALL thier options before spending a dime. Look at all the shit they had to go through to get approval to spend their own money. If the RT owners don’t play nice they will end up with great views of empty Wrigley Field.

    • Brains

      You know we’re in huge trouble when the Cubs want to leave Chicago. And our biggest signing has been Edwin 18-loss Jackson. Wake up fellas, you’re losers.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    If the rooftop’s promise not to sue is the one hurdle (or the major hurdle) holding this back, Im not sure why they don’t take the opportunity of trying to turn this position into an extension on the current rooftop agreement with the Cubs in exchange for a promise not to sue. Perhaps try and get a higher percentage or at least some compensation for the affected buildings?

  • Jono

    I’ve been told that they couldn’t add a short video board between the wall and bleachers bc that would push the bleachers into the rooftops’ views. So if they can’t do that, then they can’t simply add more bleachers, either, right?

    They could simply widen the walkway, but it’s already wide enough, right?

    Or they could push the back half of the bleachers back and build a walkway half way up the bleachers. That way, you can buy a beer while watching the game (except for the center field concession).

    • Jono

      the “except for the center field concession” obviously means that you can see the field from there now. I didn’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to see the game from center field after the push back. I realized I worded that kind of weird

  • Drew

    Damn, won’t expanding the park in left field by 16 feet essentially shut down Waveland, even making N. Kenmore a dead end?

    Looking at an overhead photo this is a head scratcher.

    • Brett

      That portion of Waveland is expected to become one lane.

    • wilbur

      Its where all the buses park anyway, so basically closed already. And when all the buses were idleing there it was hard to breathe walking down the side walk. I think there is room for the buses to park on waveland in the next block toward the lake.

  • Blackhawks1963

    None of the renovation work is going to start until the Ricketts get a legal guarantee in place that the rooftop owners won’t sue or have a judge slap an injunction on the construction once it gets going. They are simply being smart business people. They are ready to go yesterday, but it’s the threat of lawsuit that has stopped things.

    It’s no more complicated than that boys and girls.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Which is exactly why nothing is going to happen. Status quo is just fine for the rooftops, they have zero incentive to do anything.

    • Drew

      Are they ready to go yesterday? Do they have all necessary permits to start tomorrow if they got said guarantee today? it IS more complicated than that. Will Rahm help rush the permit process if they wanted to start tomorrow? Or will Tunney throw up more last minute road blocks.

      • Blackhawks1963

        The point is the Cubs aren’t going to spend a dime on the renovation until the rooftop owners fall in line. If they start pulling permits or begin work on any portion of the renovation, then the Ricketts immediately lose any leverage they have with the City of Chicago and the rooftop owners in getting an agreement from those leeches that they won’t slap a lawsuit on the Cubs.

        So for now no permits, no construction scheduling, no nothing. Put all the pressure on the city and smoke those rooftop bastards out.

        • cubmig

          ahhhhh……now the politics dig is in…..and under the banner cover of “smart business people”. I say if Ricketts wants to change Wrigley, then let him get on with it. That, or just withdraw from the whole project completely. Pocket the political wins made to this point, engrave them on a plaque, put it on the Ricketts’ mantel and move on. Life will go on.

  • cavemencubbie

    I was watching the turdbirds/bums series and witnessed an overhead TV stadium shot. The parking lot surrounding the stadium contained ??? number of cars. Certainly the Dodger organization is receiving a nice piece of coinage, from just the parking concession. I understand that LA is freeway heaven but it dawned on me, that though the Cubbies live in a large market city, they actually have a small market stadium. No parking concession, no signage, limited night games, neighborhood venue, political cronyism and the list goes on. For all the nostalgia of Wrigley it is time to move on. Wrigleyville is no place for a modern MLB stadium. All the NL teams in the playoffs, big and little markets, have better stadiums than even a renovated Wrigley Field will provide.

  • Kevin

    That’s why they should build BIG elsewhere to maximize revenues. Wrigley Field is a great place to visit if you want the feel of baseball 100 years ago. But, if you to maximize your investment, thing BIG, VERY BIG, and build elsewhere and never look back. It might hurt for a couple years but in the long run it’s the best decision the Cubs will ever make.

  • N8theGr8

    In a perfect world, the Cubs could just build a dome over Wrigley, effectively blocking out the summer heat, as well as the view of the rooftops. Maybe we can convince Stephen King to just drop one over the stadium…with his mind.

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  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    1. The threat of the Cubs moving out of Wrigley is long gone.
    2. I am sure the Ricketts family did some sort of market research study/ect on having a stadium in the ‘burbs. And I would guess those results are not as rosy as some on here would like to think.
    3. The mayor has to begin leaning on the roofies soon, right? I mean he knows that is what is holding this up. The mayor has as much to gain from this as the Cubs.
    4. I thought the Cubs have said there is no language in the contract that prevents them from putting up the signage? If true what is holding them back? Fear of the bad publicity of a lawsuit, not wanting to deal with a lawsuit or is that language not as clear as the Cubs once made it sound?

    • cubs2003

      1. I’m pretty sure you’re right.
      2. I’m pretty sure you’re right, but I’m starting to question if the Ricketts’ knew what they were getting into. I think they recognize the importance of retaining Wrigley(and I agree), but doing anything like this in the City of Chicago is a long process, fair or not(probably not), unless you have the right people on your side from the get go.
      3. I have no sympathy for the rooftop owners. Sycophants. I’d tell them to take their money and run, but they clearly have enough influence to call some shots. This is not exactly a free market situation.
      4. I’m not sure, but I can’t wait for all the renovations to be done and to see the Cubs competing year in/year out in Wrigley within the next few years. If that happens, it will be worth it as far as I’m concerned.

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    2. I agree that the Ricketts underestimated the politics involved in the renovations, big time.

  • Joe N

    This is just a thought… and I don’t remember the exact numbers on this, or the length of years, but, what if the Cubs offered the rooftops the following deal?

    I just checked and the numbers that I’m working off of are the rooftops sharing 17% of their revenues and this goes through the end of 2023. Assuming those numbers are correct ( per the Trib ), offer the rooftops a 2% savings in 2014, drop another 1 percent in 2015, another 1% in each consecutive year through the end of the contract ( assuming my math is correct, 2014-15%, 2015-14%, 2016-13%, down to 2023-6% ) of their revenues to sign an amendment ( or whatever it is called ) to the contract.

    While the Cubs are making a nice chunk of change, I’d think that it would pale in comparison to what they would be making on the signage that would be put in.

    They’d offer no guarantees what would happen after 2023, but until that point, the rooftops would be getting more money, and, assuming that they really couldn’t start doing the work this year, they’d get a signage-free year with a discount.

    If it would be a take it or leave it, maybe it would at least get the conversation going where something could be negotiated from there.

    I think that the Cubs would benefit once the construction is done and the rooftop owners would benefit both short and long term on it. They’d get more cash now and even if their revenue ( the rooftop owners’ ) declines over the next several years, they are actually paying less to the Cubs with each year.

    Again, I’m just throwing it out there. I don’t claim it to be a perfect plan, but maybe something along those lines would work.

  • Roose
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