As you know, City Council has now re-approved the comprehensive Wrigley Field renovation and development plan, pursuant to a handful of “tweaks” to the original plan, approved back in July. But, also as you know, the Cubs have not actually started work on the bulk of the renovation because they don’t want to put shovels in the ground only to be slapped with a lawsuit from the rooftop owners who aren’t down with the planned outfield signage (which is helping pay for the renovation). The Cubs want some kind of agreement in place with the rooftops before they start writing checks and digging ground.
Well, Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney, who’ve “helped” push the renovation package through City Council over the expeditious last eight months, now say they want to see the Cubs getting to work.
“[The Cubs] need to get started, and I was clear and unambiguous with the ownership about that even prior to today’s City Council actions,” Mayor Emanuel said of the renovation this week, per the Tribune.
Tunney’s message was similar: “I emphasize that the Cubs need to start to work as soon as possible. I think this is the time that we’ve exhausted some of the patience of my colleagues, certainly my neighborhood groups.”
For the Cubs’ part, they did – thankfully – offer a kinda-sorta update on the state of discussions with the rooftops, courtesy of General Counsel Mike Lufrano. “We are excited to have the opportunity to move forward, and we’re anxious to start work,” Cubs Vice President Mike Lufrano said after Wednesday’s votes. “We know there are a couple of issues that we’re trying to work through with the rooftops, and we’ve had good discussions,” Lufrano said, per the Tribune. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to reach a conclusion soon and get in the ground and start working.”
It’s not a deal, but at least there was a comment there. Interestingly, the rooftops declined to make a comment on City Council’s approval, which could suggest that discussions are indeed reaching a point where public comment is not necessary or advisable. Or it could suggest that the rooftops are not all fighting together on this thing anymore, given that only a couple rooftops are actually affected by the troublesome right field see-through sign. Hopefully it just means that something is close.
To that end, Dan Bernstein reported yesterday (in a tweet, and on the radio) that, although the Mayor and the City are publicly pushing the Cubs to get started, they are privately also pushing the rooftops to stand down and make a deal. Given that the Cubs’ leverage in this situation has never made much sense (“Agree not to sue us for doing that thing that you don’t want us to do, or else we’ll … um … do that thing that you don’t want us to do?”), it always seemed like it was designed to be an elbow to the ribs of the City/Alderman: if you want us to start this feather in your cap, get those rooftops to back down. Maybe that’s now what’s happening.
(An aside from Bernstein, after the renovation discussion: he’s been told that the Cubs want to increase the number of night games even further because the baseball guys do buy the argument that having more day games than any other team is a competitive disadvantage. I’ve said it for years: day baseball is a cool concept, but when you’re asking Cubs players to constantly set, re-set, and re-set again their body clocks, unlike every other team in baseball, you’re asking for them to wear down later in the season in a way that other teams will not.)