Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Rahm Emanuel Speaks, Phil Rosenthal Cautions

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Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Rahm Emanuel Speaks, Phil Rosenthal Cautions

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t stop talking about the funding for a renovation of Wrigley Field. Granted, it’s because he keeps being asked about it, but it certainly feels like something is close. Perhaps that’s because Emanuel opened this can of worms a couple weeks ago by saying that the Cubs and the city were in the “final stages” of a funding deal. That’ll lead to some follow-up questions.

Although it does seem like “final stages” was probably a bit optimistic, it’s clear that the discussions are both serious and ongoing. But Emanuel now wants to make sure that his political constituency knows he’s not looking to give the Cubs a sweetheart deal just for the sake of a sweetheart deal. From the Sun-Times:

“Wrigley Field is a great field. The Ricketts [family] purchased it. They have a responsibility that comes with it. We may make changes so they can enhance it. But we’re not gonna do that without consciously knowing who I sit there representing — and that is the taxpayers,” the mayor said at an unrelated event.

The Ricketts family “have a great venue and they thought it was a great venue when they made the buy in 2009. The package that comes together will come together when it’s ready to come together. But I’m there to be a steward for the taxpayers not one for the Ricketts family — and I know the difference.”

At last check, the Mayor’s Office was considering helping the Cubs to add new advertising and to use some of the surrounding streets for signage and special events. That help would come in the form of relaxed restrictions on Wrigley Field’s landmark status, and political wrangling to get the Cubs a deal on using those surrounding streets.

On that latter part, the Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal says the city should be careful, and references a lease between the city of Boston and the Red Sox, which allowed the team to add premium seating above the Green Monster, and to close Yawkey Way for street events.

The Red Sox got the air rights above Lansdowne Street to make room for fans atop the Green Monster, its outsize left-field wall. It also was allowed on game days to close off Yawkey Way, creating a street fair of sorts for paying fans serviced exclusively by official team concessionaires.

Per terms of the lease, Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority have been paid an average of $186,000 per year during the last nine years. And the Red Sox, according to a Boston Globe report by Northeastern University’s Initiative for Investigative Reporting, have parlayed the use of those streets to up revenue by about $45 million, give or take a Fenway Frank.

Let’s not be Boston.

If Chicago is going to help the Chicago Cubs and the effort to rehab Wrigley Field, let’s not negotiate a deal that creates a better than 25 times return for the other guys.

Fair point. But, keep in mind: if the city of Chicago is trying to help the Cubs fund the renovation of Wrigley Field without directly dipping into the public coffers, this is a way to do it. I’m not saying the Cubs should get a ridiculous deal, but if it’s designed to help the team, it should be a bit advantageous, no?

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.