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respect wrigleyTwo weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs took the first formal step in having their Wrigley Field renovation and development plan re-approved by the various official entities in Chicago. That’s when the Landmarks Commission blessed a handful of modifications to the originally-approved plan, including a further bump-out of the outfield walls. In this re-approval process, the Cubs have also agreed to reduce their night game allotment from 46 to 43 games, move the entrance to the hotel off of (residential) Patterson Street, and remove a party patio from the hotel plans.

Today, the Plan Commission approved the tweaks to the renovation plan, and also approved an arch-type sign to be placed over Clark Street by the plaza the Cubs will build next to Wrigley Field. You can read more about the approvals in both Crain’s and the Sun-Times. (Just make sure you ignore everything that the locals say in the Sun-Times piece. Mercy – I’m not sure they entirely grasp the difference between a multi-million dollar tax/job/commerce-generating commercial entity and their houses.)

You may recall that the renovation and development plan at one time called for a bridge to span Clark Street from nearby the hotel to the plaza being build on the triangle property just west of the park. I was very in favor of that pedestrian bridge, which I thought would not only be very useful (and cool to walk over), but could also look very tasteful. Alderman Tunney, and concerned citizens who apparently can’t stop themselves from hurling beer cans, scuttled the bridge over “safety” concerns (which had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the bridge would have funneled fans into the Cubs’ plaza).

For their part, one of the primary reasons the Cubs wanted that bridge was because it presented a very notable sponsorship opportunity. The bridge is dead, but the sponsorship opportunity is not thanks to the arch-type sign approved by the Plan Commission today. Hopefully the arch sign will look as tasteful as I anticipate the bridge would have. I’m all for the Cubs getting their advertising space and revenue (since that helps keep the advertising inside Wrigley Field at a reasonable level), but what you don’t want to see is a sprawling sign that just looks like a sprawling sign. If the Cubs can make a JumboTron (rendering) look like it fits inside Wrigley, I’ll stay on the optimistic side of the fence with respect to the Clark sign for now. Based on the rendering you can see here at Crain’s, both the arch and the plaza, itself, will be name-branded by a particular sponsor. (Cha-ching.)

With the Landmarks Commission and Plan Commission out of the way, the Cubs will now have to take the changes before the Zoning Committee and then the full City Council. No hurdles are expected in those steps, but it remains to be seen if the final legislative sign-off will actually kick start the work at Wrigley, or if the Cubs will continue to wait for a resolution with the rooftops, who have threatened to sue if the Cubs block any portion of their views into Wrigley with outfield signs that are a part of the renovation. All has been quiet on that front for some time. Overly optimistic take? The Cubs have resolved that issue, and are just waiting for the final legislative sign-off to announce that work will begin immediately!

… which is an extreme long-shot, given the timetable needed for ordering supplies, getting permits, hiring contractors, etc. Even if everything gets squared away in the next month – which is its own long-shot – we’re still not likely to see serious construction at Wrigley until next offseason. (Mike Lufrano did tell Fran Spielman that “we’re getting very close … stay tuned,” however. So, like, maybe we’re getting very close?)

  • wilbur

    I think think the jumbotron is designed, inpart, to block the wind coming in off the lake and down waveland. Should help reduce that impact on the team, it will be located right above the power alley in left and with the center field scoreboard will wall off that part of the outfield. If you add that to the moving out of the walls, which will enable more seats to be added further back and higher up then low line drives should also have a better shot at getting out. When they added the rows of bleachers before it raissed up the out field wind barrier line by about 5 feet,, if you add another 5 or 6 from this wall bump out, then you’ll have raised the wind blocking bleacher seats all around the out field almost 15 feet. You can see this on old pictures where you used to be able to see more of the lower stories of the buildings on sheffield and waveland. It is creating more of an inner bowl in the outfield, and blocing the wind. The jumbotron will have a large effect on this too.

    • Pat

      You can’t really block the wind with a sign. You can redirect it a little, but in doing do you increase it’s force in the flow around areas (much like putting up a partial dam increases the water force around the sides of it). It’s unlikely to have any positive effect on home runs, except maybe very specifically angled line drives. But that would be countered by balls hit into the areas of increased wind flow.

      • hansman

        Nah man, the jumbotron is the only reason Bryant signed with the Cubs.

        • TWC

          Larf.

  • Cluster

    This thing is a total clusterf&ck. Approval after approval after approval, yet actual construction work still held hostage by the rooftop rat bastards. Only in Chicago.

    • Pat

      In any city in the world, if you change your building plans you have to resubmit for approval.

      • Scotti

        The Cubs changed their plans because A) Tunney and the City Council changed the agreement after it was hammered out and agreed to (against a weak mayor’s wishes) and B) The rooftops are upset that the set back doesn’t set back the video board enough (thus the extra land grab)…

        In, oh, I don’t know, Arlington Heights for example, the Village would have its shit together enough so that it doesn’t take years to hammer out an agreement and then back track on that agreement forcing another round of approvals. Arlington Heights (and Schaumburg, Rosemont, etc.) LIKE money spent in their respective villages (oddly enough all three are villages–Arlington Heights is even the largest “village” in the US).

        • Oswego Chris

          This story is really just starting to hurt my head…

          • Scotti

            Amen.

  • Sect209Row15

    I mentioned earlier this week I saw some structural work being done from the Waveland ave. entrance. Big job, a lot of big I beam stuff. Might be new supports? For future work? I asked my ticket rep but they’re not at the park anymore. Played dumb.If the seats are torn up I wonder how they will do the seat relocation this year. The last two years they put seat numbers on available seats and you ran to the available seats you wanted. Just wondering. I’m sure they could do an online thing with graphics of the ballpark.

  • Die hard

    Brett- this is the first time you have expressly stated that the Rooftoppers threatened to sue…until now you’ve implied they hinted at doing so- are you aware of a letter or notice of intent to sue served on the Ricketts or better yet a Notice of Claim served on the City which would be needed if added as a party? Do tell please

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  • Diamondrock

    My favorite bit in the Sun-Times article is the bit from the gentleman named “Robert Roberts.” Though that’s mostly because of his name.

    • Scotti

      Funny that the SunTimes quotes Jim Spencer on the amount of parking spaces lost (56) but fails to mention the amount of monies the Cubs are being coerced into “donating” to the community (Crain’s had it at $4.75 million). That’s $84,821.43 per parking spot.

      • MichiganGoat

        Can you imagine the complaints if the Cubs tried to add a parking garage?

  • Die hard

    If the City is brought into the suit then will become Constitutional issue going all the way to US Supreme Ct that will delay everything for 5 yrs

    • MichiganGoat

      Lovely deect one completely erroneous post with another unlike doomsday senario… few can match your ability die hard, your satire is unique.

      • MichiganGoat

        Wow deect is deflect I don’t like this ios7 keyboard.

        • hansman

          I got a Samsung Note 2 and good god, is it tough getting used to that keyboard.

          • wvcubsfan

            turn on swype, you’ll thank me later.

  • hansman

    Also from that Crain’s article a link to “Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks”. A map of the US by income, and other things:

    http://www.richblockspoorblocks.com/

  • andrew

    It’s amazing how many Wrigley neighbors either 1) moved into the area before 1914 or 2) didn’t realize they were moving in next to a major league ballpark.

  • chrisfchi

    At first when I heard “arch” I thought of St. Louis (ugh)

    If it comes out like the rendering on Crain’s website then I think it will look great. Boost the visual look outside the park and bring in money for the team and raise property value around the park.

    The residents around the park complaining need to realize how much of a positive these renovations are to them as well.(in the suntimes piece one resident complained of lack of police in the neighborhood, after this project I doubt it would be an issue) Bringing in more jobs for the community, more money for the community and would make Lakeview one of the top destinations in Chicago.

  • Aaron

    “Every one of these rooftops still has a view inside this ballpark. I didn’t say the same view. But, we believe every rooftop partner will be able to have a view inside the ballpark,” team spokesman Julian Green said.

    Sounds like legal positioning here. The rooftops would still have a view of the inside of the park, but perhaps the contract does not guarantee that it will be the same view as the date the agreement was signed. I would love to read the actual agreement to see what precise language it has on views inside the ballpark.

    The Cubs needs the revenue and they are a for profit business. There are restriction of trade issues here. The judge could dissolve the agreement with particular rooftops where they would no longer have to pay the Cubs anything going forward. The Cubs would not object, since they want to put up the ad sign in right field and the jumbotron in left. There is a possibility that the Cubs may need to buy out certain contracts, which would cost them millions, but so would a legal fight.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      “I would love to read the actual agreement to see what precise language it has on views inside the ballpark.”

      One of the most remarkable things about this whole process, at least to me, is that no one has leaked that contract.

      • TOOT

        Not Yet!

      • TOOT

        Everbody is afraid to say anything at this point,IMO.

      • Die hard

        It will be attached to the complaint filed next week

  • Aaron

    Luke, I agree. I did a Google search but could not come up with anything.

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    Did the Cubs give the roofies more power by saying they won’t start until a threat of a lawsuit is resolved? They could have used the city approval process as a reason they would not start. The roofies now know they have that chip in their back pocket even if the language in the contract is against them. They can file the lawsuit and just hold the whole thing up. That seems like a pretty good negotiating tool to me.

  • Aaron

    Phil Rosenthal reported back in April of this year that “the contract allows that ‘any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation’ of the deal.”

    It’s unlikely to obviate a lawsuit; the Rooftops Association said in a statement earlier this year that “any construction that interrupts the Rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.”

  • Aaron

    The legal issue may revolve about an unfair business practice against the Cubs, considering they have an active agreement with the rooftop owners. This unfair practice could end up driving them out of business. I’m not so sure of that, but it is an argument.

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