Earlier 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.