SBD/April 16, 2012/Facilities

Chicago Mayor Seeks To Renovate Wrigley Without Putting All Burden On Taxpayers

Emanuel hopes to ease burden on taxpayers by relaxing Wrigley's landmark status

Determined to renovate Wrigley Field "without overburdening taxpayers," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "pushing a plan to relax the ballpark’s landmark status and allow the Cubs to wring" as much as $150M in advertising and sponsorship revenues out of the stadium and surrounding streets, according to sources cited by Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Emanuel "privately calls it his 'Fenway' plan." With Emanuel as mayor and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein as Cubs President of Baseball Operations, City Hall "believes it’s time to replicate the Fenway model at Wrigley." Alderman Tom Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, said the "wish list" of ways to wring more revenue out of Wrigley was just "part of the negotiating process." He "didn’t rule anything out." Sources said that the "laundry list of ideas being kicked around by the Cubs and City Hall does not currently include more night games" beyond the current 30 but could "at some point to generate even more revenue." Two days before the Cubs’ home opener, Emanuel said that he was "in the 'final stages' of negotiating a Wrigley deal." He also "telegraphed his plan to help the team squeeze more revenue out of Wrigley -- by demanding that the Cubs invest their own money in the stadium instead of pumping" $200M into construction of the triangle building. Sources said that the final deal is still "likely to include a variation of the financing scheme that Emanuel once called a 'non-starter' -- forfeiting" 35 years’ worth of amusement tax growth. But, the city would get a "minimum annual guarantee that would rise every year" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/16).

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