Obsessive Wrigley Renovation Watch: Continued Night Game Problems, Moving a Wall, and More

respect wrigleyRemember that big, flying dog in ‘The Neverending Story’? I can’t imagine why he’s in my head right now …

  • The City Council met yesterday to discuss a variety of things, which meant that Alderman Tom Tunney was necessarily swarmed by the media as soon as they could get to him. When asked about why the Wrigley deal wasn’t done yet, per CBS Chicago, Tunney said, “The specifics keep changing and the asks keep changing. So how do you pin down what we are agreeing to? When those decisions change all the time those motives change.” The issue that seemed to be informing Tunney’s comment? The Cubs’ request for an increase in allowable night games, and, specifically, how “night games” or “night events” are defined, according to Major League Baseball.
  • The real meat of the night game issue at this point seems to be the Cubs’ request for flexibility. Under their current agreement with the neighborhood, the Cubs are allowed up to 30 night games, with the flexibility to increase that to 33 if MLB requests the switch of any Cubs games from day to night to accommodate national broadcasts. According to a Chicago Tribune report, the City has agreed to increase the Cubs’ allowable number of night games to 40, and allowable night “events” to 44 (to accommodate four concerts).
  • The Cubs are apparently good with that increase, but they want to make sure that the community understands MLB has the right to switch day games to night games, and the Cubs don’t want those switches to count against their allowable total, according to the Tribune. You can understand the Cubs’ perspective: how can they schedule the right number of night games if they’ve got a hard cap from the community, but a necessary flex from MLB? As many as 11 games could be switched to a night game, which means that, without flexibility, the Cubs could schedule with confidence only 29 or 30 night games … the number they’re allowed to schedule now. (Apparently the MLB request for flipping day games to night games hasn’t really come up in recent years, though I also suspect that, because of increased national broadcast rights, MLB is showing far more national games than they have in the past. And, if they’re flipping more games from day to night in general nowadays, and would especially be doing that to the Cubs in season in which the Cubs are good, the Cubs simply want to be able to have more than 40 to 44 night games in season in which they are good.)
  • My guess is that this flexibility issue hadn’t been fully fleshed out with Tunney or the community just yet – there was no reason to go beyond a cursory reminder of the requirement for flexibility until an increase in night games was actually on the table – so there was a natural, human bristling response when folks heard that “40 night games” could actually mean “50 night games” in some seasons. My semi-tongue-in-cheek response to the bristle: in the years that happens, it means the Cubs are actually good. So you’ll probably be in a good mood, neighborhood, and happy to accept the extra night games. I don’t think this is the kind of issue that will derail things. I think it was just a matter of everyone needing to be informed about the trickiness of MLB scheduling.
  • On outfield signage and the JumboTron, the story doesn’t appear to have changed: everyone agrees that a video board is coming in left, and at least one sign is coming in right. But everyone is still discussing just how big, and just what location.
  • Speaking of the JumboTron, Serena Dai and Ted Cox of DNAinfo report that at least one creative idea is being floated to accommodate the kind of video board the Cubs want, while simultaneously doing everything possible not to block rooftop views. The idea – and it’s just an idea – is coming from the Cubs, and would involve bumping the left field wall out eight feet. That would allow for better angles from the rooftops, and slightly reduce any blocking. It would, however, push the sidewalk out into current Waveland Avenue, which would probably have to lose its street parking if it is to remain a two-way street.
  • The Sun-Times sums up the multifarious and conflicting problems facing all sides in reaching a comprehensive agreement, including the obvious ones discussed above, as well as ongoing parking issues and debate over the height of the hotel proposed by the Ricketts Family. An anonymous source underscores the problem for the Cubs, which is that they need very specific plans in place to feel comfortable getting moving on the overall project, while the City is only looking for a broad, high-level agreement to do the renovation.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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