Although City Council has signed off once again on the comprehensive plan to renovation Wrigley Field and develop the surrounding area into a Cubs-centric bundle of wonderful, the team has yet to actually break ground on any of the meat of the work, thanks in large part to a standoff with the rooftops that surround Wrigley.
You know the story: the Cubs say they need two large outfield signs in place to help pay for the renovation, and the rooftops say the Cubs can’t put up signs that obstruct the rooftop views without breaching the contract between the rooftops and the Cubs. For fear that a lawsuit could shut down the construction as soon as it starts (causing unknown logistical problems), the Cubs won’t start work until they’ve got a deal in place with the rooftops that involves no lawsuits.
To that end, we heard last week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel may be helping nudge the rooftops in the direction of an agreement, while simultaneously pushing the Cubs publicly to get the project underway. According to Greg Hinz at Crain’s, that nudging has taken the very specific form of City Council floor leader Pat O’Connor engaging in a kind of diplomacy mission between the Ricketts Family and the rooftops. Hinz says that there’s not a deal yet, but the sides are talking, and there’s still progress being made.
In other words, even though work hasn’t yet started, there’s no reason to sound the alarm bells. Besides, if it’s true that construction cannot begin this offseason no matter what, then there’s suddenly several months in which to work out a deal. Call me a starry-eyed romantic, unwilling to listen to the Cubs’ explicit statements to the contrary, but I remain hopeful that some of the renovation work can still be done this offseason. Don’t join me in that hope, though, because I think I’m on an island.
Eventually, we’re probably going to hear that the Cubs reached some kind of agreement with the two or three rooftops that the new signage actually impacts, which could be a reduced revenue-share, or possibly a buy-out. Until then, we wait.