You would laugh if (1) it weren’t so important, and (2) this kind of stuff hadn’t happened over and over for the past several years:
— Bill Ruthhart (@BillRuthhart) May 28, 2014
As discussed last week, and earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs say they will forward with their plan to renovate and expand Wrigley Field, and to develop the surrounding area, despite the lack of a side agreement with the rooftops not to sue the Cubs if their views into the ballpark are obstructed. In order to move forward with a revised plan – the bulk of which is increased signage in the outfield, which the Cubs had wanted all along, but tempered in order to negotiate with the rooftops – the Cubs merely had to get approval from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks. Wrigley Field, having certain landmarked aspects, falls under their authority when those certain aspects of the park are set to be altered. Most of the approvals the Cubs need from the City were, by all accounts, secured last year. Further, Cubs business president Crane Kenney yesterday explained that the revised plan was developed while working together with the City on what would work and what wouldn’t, based on those prior approvals. A simple sign-off from the Landmarks Commission, and everything would be off to the races.
Simple. Never use that word, dude.
In the last day, a couple Mayoral representatives cast doubt on the Cubs’ ability to get their revised plan approved at next week’s Landmarks Commission meeting, thanks in part to a plan to move the bullpens to the outfield, which would impact the bricks and ivy (landmarked). The Cubs, those representatives suggested, hadn’t clued the City in on that particular part of the plan while they were working together over the past two months. It didn’t seem like a big deal, given the scope of the rest of the renovation, but it did appear to be another example of important details falling through the cracks. (Query whether there’s a little bit of a political cover at play here, given that some in the community were critical of the Mayor’s Office, claiming they’d come up with this revised plan together with the Cubs in back rooms, and then slated it for approval a week later. The initial reaction from the City and the Mayor’s office was quite positive, you should note.)
So, what now? I shake my head a lot, mostly. There will be continued negotiations, continued politicking, and hopefully the Cubs won’t, once again, be caught in the crossfire of the varying interests of the parties involved. There will probably also be more threats to move, or at least folks banging the drum for there to be threats to move.
Maybe the Cubs and the City get this thing worked out, and it’s all set for the next Landmarks Commission meeting, and nothing in the time line – discussed earlier today, for crying out loud – is affected. Maybe this is all about appearances and politics. Maybe this is genuinely just about the bullpen move, and that can be figured out separately without holding anything else up.
We’ll likely get updates soon enough. I’ve reached out to the Cubs for comment.
UPDATE: WLS has a more complete cut of the Mayor’s comments to the media: “Nobody ever saw [the bullpen plan]. It was first seen yesterday. That’s why you don’t take something that’s been there for a hundred years and just try to rush it in a week. There have been a lot of discussions and that will not be on the schedule or the docket at next week’s landmarks commission.”