Today, the Chicago Cubs should be presenting their revised Wrigley Field renovation and expansion plan to the Landmarks Commission for easy approval. But they aren’t. I’ll admit, I’m probably more frustrated by this than is reasonable, given that it could all be squared away in a special session later this month. Still, I’ll be shaking my head today from time to time, thinking about it. And then I’ll totally distract myself with the Draft.
As for the renovation, a few bits to share …
- DNAinfo reports that the Cubs have already filed for demolition permits with respect to some of their near-Wrigley parking lots, which will be work on as soon as July. Included in those lots? The triangle property just west of the ballpark, where the 30,000 square foot Cubs clubhouse will go, subterraneously. What I find interesting is that, per the DNAinfo report and Cubs spokesperson Kam Buckner, the plan is still to start that particular work in July. Is that optimism, then, that the revised plan will be fully approved by the Landmarks Commission in time for a July groundbreaking? Or is it confirmation that the Cubs will proceed with the clubhouse stuff (which does not, itself, need to be approved) regardless of what happens with the Landmarks Commission? Or is it simply the plan … pending the Landmarks Commission decision? I would have guessed that third one (still hard to see the Cubs starting work on the bones of the renovation without knowing *for sure* that they can add their revenue-generating signage in the outfield (subject to rooftop legal fights)).
- Speaking of rooftop legal fights, Crain’s Chicago got an interview with the rooftops’ new lawyer – Charles Tompkins, retained in anticipation of legal action when the Cubs move to put up signs that obstruct outfield views – and he laid the foundation for what are likely to be the rooftops’ primary legal, and public relations, arguments. On the legal side (and you’ll be helped by reading my take on the full contract, which sets up some of these textual issues), Tompkins takes on the contention that there’s nothing in the agreement that expressly prohibits the Cubs’ obstructing rooftop views (instead, I’d say, there is merely language that states what the Cubs must do if they happen to obstruct those views (and there are arguments that even that language is inapplicable here)), arguing that the rooftops wouldn’t have paid the Cubs so much money over the years if the Cubs could simply block their views whenever they wanted. I’m not sure how much legal meat that argument has.
- Tompkins also takes on the “any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement” language by explaining that everyone understood that to mean an expansion of the bleachers that blocks their views (like the expansion that took place back in 2004/05). The problem I see with that argument is that, repeatedly in the contract, there are references to “bleacher expansions,” so clearly the parties understood how to reference “bleacher expansions” if they meant “bleacher expansions.” Here, the contract says only “expansion,” which must mean something different from “bleacher expansion,” because the parties would have written “bleacher expansion” if they meant “bleacher expansion,” just as they did in several other sections.
- (On the PR side, Tompkins makes the argument that the rooftops probably should have been emphasizing to the media and the public all along: based on this agreement, and in good faith, the rooftops spent $50 million renovating their properties to keep them functioning well, and make them nice for fans. It’s unfair, the argument would go, for the Cubs to now try to block some of those rooftops after they’ve spent so much money.)
- That’s the really basic, high-level take on the interview, by the way. If you want more detail, you should definitely read the Crain’s piece.
- Tom Ricketts met with a local business group to pitch the benefits of the renovation/development this week (Tribune). It wasn’t a special pitch, by the way – it was part of a scheduled, annual talk.