As the Wrigley renovation talks have dragged on, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has kept his comments extremely innocuous, if not overtly political-speak. There’s a deal to be had. Taxpayers. Compromise. Hanging chads.
Yesterday, however, the Mayor opened up a fair bit, and sounded exceedingly positive about a forthcoming resolution, per the Sun-Times. He described the talks as in the “bottom of the 9th” inning, which should strike you as a very good thing once you get past the immediate Cubs bullpen/Carlos Marmol jokes rolling around your head.
“We’re closer than ever before,” the Mayor said, per the Sun-Times. “I want to thank Mr. [Tom] Ricketts for his commitment to staying in Chicago …. The broad outlines of a framework are there. We’re just working on the details. We’re making very good progress. I want the conversations to just finish now so we can take it to the second stage, which is a submission to the planning development process.”
It sounds like, although this week’s “deadline” for a deal came and went, my sense of things has been correct: the broad parameters of a deal have been in place for some time, and the Cubs are committed to staying in Chicago. The particulars require finessing because of the many, many interested parties, and the process itself has a variety of procedural requirements that simply take time. But it seems like everyone believes we’ll get there.
And when the deal arrives, it sounds like it will involve bumping each of the left and right field walls out as much as 10 feet* to simultaneously accommodate rooftop views, and to add concessions space for the Cubs under the bleachers. The Sun-Times report has the full details, including some anonymous quotes, but the short version is each of the Cubs and the City have a different view of why the wall expansion is coming. The Cubs say it’s because they want to be able to have the JumboTron in left and the ad sign in right closer to the rooftop buildings, which will help reduce the negative impact on their views into Wrigley (the closer the signs are to the action, the more they cut down on the angles the affected rooftops have for seeing into Wrigley). The City says it’s because the Cubs want more space inside Wrigley.
Whatever the case, it sounds like a win/win for the Cubs and the rooftops, so it’s very likely to be part of the renovation plan. It doesn’t sound like, at this point, bumping the walls out will have any impact on seating (the bleachers already overhang the sidewalks, and the wall bump-out would just reduce or eliminate that overhang).
*No one seems to be talking about this aspect, but, if the walls are bumped out that dramatically, the sidewalks on the Waveland and Sheffield sides of the park will essentially be gone (if not also some parking or even a lane of traffic). If that happens, doesn’t it seem like the street fairs idea – i.e., where the Cubs would be able to use a closed-down Sheffield (and now maybe also a portion of Waveland) to sell food/goods/whatever and generally create a party atmosphere for games – is more likely to happen? Sheffield is already closed during games anyway, and, without a sidewalk there, everyone is going to be in the streets anyway. The concessions aspect of the street fairs – and the attendant impact on local businesses – has been the stickiest issue, but with a physical change to the area that makes it look even more street fair-y, I have to wonder if it’s coming.