Hooray! Wrigley Renovation Deal Done; Approvals Still Needed

Well, glad that is over, well almost over, as with any deal approvals are still needed from multiple sources.  But here’s the facts, the Cubs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Alderman Tom Tunney have come to terms on a 5 year $500 million plan to make Wrigley Field a better place play and watch a game at.  The money will be used to rehab the ballpark and develop the area surrounding Wrigley.  Danny Ecker of Crains does a nice job of laying out the details, you can read his article here.  I will outline the details he includes in his blog so I get all the facts straight.

The first part of the deal is the signage going up around Wrigley, including a massive video board, from the article..

“BALLPARK SIGNAGE The city and Mr. Tunney have agreed to allow the Cubs to erect a video screen in left field, as well as a right field advertising sign “in the style” of the existing Toyota sign that currently sits in left field. The Cubs will work with the city on placement of both signs “to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the needs of the team,” according to a statement from the Cubs. In addition, the Cubs will be able to install more signage inside the park, including areas around the seating bowl that will not block rooftop views.”

This was a major sticking point for a long time during these negotiations, as rooftop owners were furious that their views might be blocked by video boards or advertising.  It sounds as though everyone involved will do their Wrigleybest not to obstruct anything, but there’s only so much you can do, Wrigley and the Cubs need this, not only to catch up to everyone else in Major League Baseball, but generate revenue from advertising.

Here are the details on how the renovation deal will affect game times from Ecker’s article..

“NIGHT GAMES AND GAME TIMES The Cubs will be allowed to hold 40 night games per season — up from the current maximum of 30, capped by a 2004 neighborhood protection plan — under a new special City Council ordinance that will allow for additional night games when required by Major League Baseball’s national TV contract. The 40 night games do not include playoffs or other games that are not counted under the current ordinance. The Cubs will also be allowed to start six games at 3:05 p.m. on Fridays (unlike the usual 1:20 p.m. starts).”

This is news that affects all us fans as well, the Cubs will have more night games, and later starting Friday afternoon games.  This was a move long coming, I love day baseball, it’s part of the Cubs history, but it’s clear that in order for the Cubs to compete will other clubs in regards to bringing in players or keeping their own players happy they will need to back up game times.  This new ordinance will allow that, getting home from a Friday afternoon will be much easier when it starts at 3:05 instead of 1:20, well, slightly easier, it’s still Chicago on a Friday afternoon/evening.

Here are a few more things that fans might be interested in..

“PARKING The Cubs will develop a new parking plan calling for 1,000 free parking spots off site with a shuttle to Wrigley Field. They’ll also put together an awareness campaign with Mr. Tunney’s office and the Chicago Department of Transportation to better educate fans about remote parking options and other alternative ways of getting to the park, like bikes and the CTA. (Improving awareness of existing options was something neighborhood groups and the Alderman have pushed recently). The Cubs will also be allowed to reconstruct the “Brown Lot” on Eddy Street, pending community approval.

 TRAFFIC There will be new Clark Street traffic lights to control game-day congestion, and the Cubs will work with the city and community on a new public safety plan that will provide 30 additional safety personnel outside the park after games. In exchange for the potential increase in traffic, the Cubs will contribute to the School Street Play Lot funding effort and make annual contributions for the next 10 years for public projects benefiting the area, as agreed upon by Mr. Tunney and the team.”

I would say that two things that keep fans away from Wrigley are traffic and parking, it’s impossible to park by Wrigley, it’s somewhat easier to get to the game from the suburbs via pace bus, but it’s a challenge to say the least.  In this deal there seems to be some effort to make the trip a little easier.  I like the fact that they will be educating the fans about parking, it’s a mess, and the more information available, especially to people that don’t get to go to Wrigley that often is so important.  More street lights are always a good thing, leaving Wrigley after a game can be a dangerous adventure, even if you are just walking across the street to one of the bars, people are in a hurry, and not always paying attention, so it’s nice to see the safety is being addressed.

Here are quotes from all the major players in the deal from the Crain’s article, I suggest you check it out for full details on the deal.  They have information on the triangle building, a new hotel that will also be going up, extended beer sales, all sorts of good stuff.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts: “We are excited about moving forward with the approval process. Under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Tunney, we believe the Cubs proposal will help us invest in Wrigley Field and the Lakeview community. We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward.”

Mayor Emanuel: “This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors. I want to thank the Ricketts family for their commitment to Chicago and commend all parties involved for making this agreement without the use of any taxpayer money. It will have a long-lasting positive effect on Chicago.”

Ald. Tunney: “There are thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses who all contribute to the unique character of our neighborhood. Each of them benefits from the Cubs, and there is no doubt our neighborhood is better and more vibrant with the Cubs at Clark and Addison. I’m proud they’ve recommitted to Wrigley Field.”

There are going to be many more details released in the coming days, but this is a big win for the Cubs, they can finally move forward with something that is long overdue.

Thanks for reading,
– George