When the Cubs’ self-imposed April 1 deadline in Wrigley renovation talks was looming, my thought was that, if the deadline came and passed without a deal, we’d hear one of two responses: (1) more posturing and angry spin, or (2) blah-blah “we’re still talking, making progress” stuff. I said that, if it was the latter, I’d feel confident that a deal was close. And, now that number two is exactly what’s happened, I guess I have to stand by that: I believe a deal is probably pretty close.
Yesterday’s deadline came and went without a deal, but the Cubs, the neighborhood, and the City are still engaged in talks – they are coming back to the table today – because all sides believe enough progress was made by yesterday to justify continued discussions.
To re-set: the Ricketts Family is willing to pay for much-needed renovations to Wrigley Field themselves, so long as certain funding mechanisms are made available to them. Those mechanisms include more ads in the ballpark, a JumboTron, more night games, more concerts, and street fairs. Rooftop buildings surrounding Wrigley Field fear that more ads and a JumboTron would block their views and kill their business, and some neighborhood residents have concerns about more night games and various unsavory things that accompany them. The neighborhood’s Alderman Tom Tunney is leading discussions on behalf of the neighborhood and the rooftops, and has been the primary roadblock to getting a deal done (so far). It’s actually a whole lot more nuanced than all of that, but you’ve got the gist of where things stand.
- Sources tell NBC Chicago that the sides agreed to push the deadline back to April 8, which is the home opener at Wrigley Field (wouldn’t that have always made sense as an announcement date?).
- Alderman Tunney sounded far more upbeat and less political than he’s seemed in virtually every other statement he’s made on the subject. “I think there’s reasonableness on all sides, but we’re not there yet,” Tunney told the Tribune. “We’re going to hopefully meet tomorrow again.”
- According to Dave Kaplan’s sources, the Cubs are willing to do what is needed with respect to parking and police protection, but they’re holding firm on their demands for in-stadium advertising and a JumboTron. The Cubs would also like to end these discussions in such a way that, in the future, there aren’t so many hoops to jump through when the Cubs want to get something done with the ballpark.
- The Sun-Times’ version of this story has a source – and, if it’s in the Sun-Times, it’s a mayoral source – saying that staying at the table to negotiate today was done at the Mayor’s request. If the Mayor really wants the side to get a deal done, at some point it’s going to require him actually doing something, and leaning on the appropriate people get an agreement in place. I know Emanuel wants to remain as hands off as possible, but he can’t act as though he’s got no dog in the fight on one hand, and then tout the success of a $500 million, privately-funded project in Chicago on his watch on the other hand.
- The Sun-Times source, by the way, said he/she didn’t know what would happen after today in discussions, which stands in contrast to the NBC Chicago report of a new April 8 deadline.