Oh, no. Another Wrigley Field renovation approval required from the Landmarks Commission?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the three-plus years covering the Wrigley Field renovation story, it’s that you cannot assume anything will be “fine,” no matter how innocuous it seems. So, I’m not going to assume anything.
But here’s the skinny on the Chicago Cubs heading to the Landmarks Commission tomorrow to present another revision to the renovation plan for approval, which I suspect they’ll get:
- The Cubs are scheduled for an appearance at tomorrow’s Landmarks Commission meeting – here’s the agenda – and we’re only just now hearing about it. Were this expected to be contentious, there would have been opposition forces out in the media for days or maybe even weeks. That’s tentatively a good sign.
- As Danny Ecker writes – he broke this story – the approval the Cubs are seeking is actually for a reduction in outfield signage. The proposed script sign that would have been between the JumboTron in left (which will be moved 30 feet toward the left field line) and the Old Scoreboard in center has been removed, leaving six signs instead of seven. And the smaller video board in right has been reduced in size and moved to far right field, flipping it with the original right field script sign, which is now in right center.
- According to both Ecker’s report and a separate report in the Tribune, the changes the Cubs are requesting are pursuant to a negotiated agreement with the National Park Service, which will allow the Cubs’ work at Wrigley to qualify for a historic preservation tax credit (in short, the work you do to preserve a nationally-significant historic place can qualify for a 20% tax credit – this isn’t some special break for the Cubs, it’s available with respect to all historic places, and I think we can all agree that Wrigley is that). The value of that credit could be significant, assuming it applies to all of the $375ish million in work being done to Wrigley Field, proper.
- Keep in mind, the Cubs had a master sign plan approved last year, so any time they want to make changes to the outfield signage at Wrigley, they have to get approval from the Landmarks Commission. I’m not saying it’s perfunctory, but these kinds of changes have been contemplated already, even long after the signage actually goes up, and is changed thereafter.
- There’s obviously a rooftop impact here, as any changes with the signage will affect views from the buildings around Wrigley. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the changes the Cubs are making satisfy not only the National Park Service, but also positively affect certain rooftops. We do know that the Ricketts Family has been reportedly in negotiations to buy some rooftops, and Crane Kenney recently said that a purchase was possible at some point. The views in left center and right center should theoretically be improved by this revision.
- The Cubs have been working to get partners for their outfield signs, and the reduction of one sign suggests that, at least with respect to that sign, the Cubs hadn’t yet secured a sponsor (and deemed the value of the tax credit to exceed, in the long-term, the value of that particular sign – probably a very fair bet). As you can see, there were probably a whole lot of things to coordinate with this decision. There probably still are.
- (Something something something about Fenway Park being on the National Register of Historic Places, and then a link to this post about all the signage at Fenway, and then something something something about Cubs always being treated differently, and then something about kicking dirt.)
- The Wrigley Blog is on the spot with a visualization of the proposed change: