This is the week.
Or maybe it’ll be some other week. Or month. Or year.
You never actually know when it comes to the renovation and development of Wrigley Field, but this could be the week we see the final governmental hurdle cleared, allowing the Cubs to actually finally break ground on the plan. In other words, it’s now official: on Thursday, July 10, the Cubs will present their revised plan for Wrigley Field to the Landmarks Commission.
Recall, the Cubs need the Commission to sign off on their revised renovation/expansion/development plan – the one the Cubs said they were going to barrel ahead with even though they didn’t have a deal in place with the rooftops not to sue – before they can break ground. They’d wanted to break ground first on their new clubhouse in mid-July, but their hopes of having the Commission approve the plan last month were crushed under the weight of political theater. Not about the increase in outfield signs from two to seven, mind you, but about the slight widening of the outfield doors so that the Cubs could move the bullpens under the bleachers.
Now the Cubs will get their chance to get the plan approved, and they have recently expressed optimism that they’ll get the approval.
The rooftops threw a wrinkle into things late last week, offering to agree not to sue if the Cubs went back to their original two-sign outfield plan. The Cubs, having now lost a year because of the rooftop issue, were not interested in agreeing to anything right now (understandable), and plan to go ahead with the revised plan at the Landmarks Commission meeting.
Getting approval at the meeting doesn’t necessarily mean the Cubs will go ahead with seven outfield signs, though, as emphasized recently by a city spokesperson, who told the Tribune: “There’s always time for an agreement between the Cubs and rooftop owners, before or after the Landmarks Commission meets. The mayor’s hope has long been that both parties come together to resolve the issue, allowing for a renovation of Wrigley Field that respects its traditions, creates jobs and makes investments in the neighborhood.”
The way I read that? The rooftops feared that the Cubs were going to get their approval for seven signs, which had the potential to really, really harm the rooftop businesses. So they acquiesced, and offered to go with the compromised plan the Cubs offered last year. The Cubs, having worked closely with the city on all of this – and having done their own acquiescing by changing the outfield door bullpen plan – weren’t about to change things mid-stream when they’re this close to getting a much better plan (for them) approved by the city. So, we may see the city approve the Cubs’ plan, and then see a new round of negotiations about the outfield signage, with the Cubs having just received a great deal of leverage from the city (or we may see the rooftops make good on their lawsuit threats, but their recent offer to accept the two outfield signs suggests that they may not feel too strongly in their legal position).
Then again, that all sounds optimistic, which you know is never safe in this story. So I take it all back. We’ll see what happens on Thursday, and I choose not to expect anything but horror.