Today, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the Chicago Cubs’ revised renovation, expansion, and development plan for Wrigley Field – a $575 million privately-funded project to improve, protect, and restore Wrigley Field. Taking care of the Cubs’ ballpark is incredibly important not only for preserving the fan experience that is among the most special things in all of sports, but also for improving the Cubs’ ability to maximize the revenue they generate from the park. The Cubs have been playing catch-up in that regard for far too long relative to other large-market teams in baseball. The Cubs have pledged that every dollar of revenue that comes into the organization goes right back into paying the organization’s expenses and supporting baseball operations. In other words: more revenue means more money the Cubs can spend on players, prospects, development, facilities, equipment, etc.
The revisions to the previously-approved Wrigley plan include a greatly expanded home clubhouse, seating changes, modest expansions in the bleacher area, and, of course, seven outfield signs, two of which are video boards. Getting this approval is likely the final significant political hurdle to getting the renovation underway. A month ago, I’d expected that this approval would be followed by me squealing, GIF’ing, etc. But, given how things have proceeded, and the questions that remain, I can’t quite do that yet.
What happens next? We’ll probably have a sense soon.
That’s because the Cubs have reportedly agreed to continue negotiating with the rooftops, who have previously threatened to sue if the Cubs actually proceed with implementing signs that obstruct their views. Implementing these seven signs would definitely do that, though the Cubs have suggested that they feel strongly enough about their legal position (I’d agree) to proceed in the face of that threat.
The Tribune reports that the Cubs and the rooftops are scheduled to meet tomorrow. Here’s hoping that it’s the last time they meet: hammer out an agreement that serves everyone (but doesn’t hamper the Cubs’ ability to generate the revenue they need), and get started on the renovations.
Of course, I’ve been conditioned to be pessimistic at this point. At least for now, for today, another in a series of endless hurdles has been cleared.
I’ll have more details on this soon, including hopefully the precise contours of what was approved, and how the Cubs/rooftops/city are reacting to today’s decision.