Two 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?)