As you may or may not recall, last year, the Cubs sought to have Wrigley Field placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which would allow the team to qualify for a 20% tax credit when rehabbing that historic place. At the time, the renovation of Wrigley, proper, was expected to be $300 million. That figure is now up to $375 million, which means that the credit could be worth up to $75 million. That’s a significant chunk of change.*
*Before anyone goes off the rails on NO PUBLIC FUNDING!, be advised that this is a federal program available equally to all people and businesses engaged in preserving historic places (because the government, and the citizenry, has an interest in preserving historic places, and wants to incentivize people to put up the cash to actually get that preservation done). Unless you want to argue that Wrigley Field is not of historic significance in the United States – good luck – then any anti-public-money beef here is rightly placed with the government and not the Cubs.
Well, about that $75 million. The Tribune has a new report out this morning indicating that the National Parks Service, which must sign off on the project before the credits can be issued, has not yet signed off on the latest iteration of the Wrigley renovation plan. Specifically, they haven’t yet approved the inclusion of the five additional (seven total) outfield signs.
Being that those signs are expected to be significant revenue generators, the Cubs likely aren’t keen on robbing Peter to pay Paul here, and losing the signs to effectuate the tax credit. The Tribune report indicates that nothing is yet finalized in either direction, and the Cubs are still working with the National Parks Service on the issue.
To be clear, this hang-up should not, strictly speaking, be a roadblock in the renovation, itself. Instead, it would merely be a financial issue. Which, in turn, could be a renovation hang-up. But not necessarily. Further, it’s not yet entirely clear whether, if the Cubs proceed with the renovation, put up all of the signs, and then try to get some of the tax credits later, they could still get something done.
You throw in the continued possibility of a rooftop issue with respect to the signage, and – surprise – this is a complicated situation.
A team source indicated that the Cubs are still committed to their full outfield signage plan at this time, however. So we’ll see how this shakes out over the offseason.