SBD/March 21, 2013/Facilities

Ricketts Family, Chicago Alderman At Loggerheads Over Wrigley Renovation Plans

Wrigley's planned $500M renovation relies upon Cubs, city reaching a deal
Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the area encompassing Wrigley Field, "finds himself portrayed as the big obstacle" in Cubs Owner the Ricketts family's bid to renovate the ballpark, according to Dardick & Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The Cubs have "helped paint Tunney as the bad guy standing in the way" of a $500M deal to "rehab the stadium, build a hotel and create a plaza." With negotiations "continuing ahead of an April 1 deadline declared by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, the pressure has mounted" to get a deal done. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has "stressed that through Tunney, he is giving the neighborhood a voice." But Emanuel would "like to see a deal get done." Tunney yesterday said that he is "upset that what he believes are inaccurate portrayals of his positions are appearing in the media as the sides continue to try to reach an accord." He said, "These (stories) take on a life of their own. I'm upset about the mischaracterizations." A source said that the mayor "played no role" in the leak earlier this week in which Tunney suggested replacing the iconic center field scoreboard with a Jumbotron-like screen. Tunney said that the possibility of moving the scoreboard to "make room for a 6,000-square-foot video screen the team proposed adding to the stadium came up as one of several ideas during a recent 'round table meeting' with Cubs staff members and Emanuel aides." He added that Cubs officials "took the various plans away from the meeting to consider further, and a few days later said they wanted to scratch the idea of moving the scoreboard off the list." Tunney: "They told everyone that particular proposal wasn't one they were comfortable pursuing. That was the end of it." Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green said that the team's deadline "is real and that the organization is not orchestrating attacks on Tunney" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/21).

LANDMARK CASE: The TRIBUNE's Dardick & Byrne note the center field scoreboard is "protected as a landmark, so to replace it would require the approval of various city bodies, including the Commission on Chicago Landmarks" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/21). In Chicago, Fran Spielman cited sources as saying that if a deal can "still be salvaged," it is "certain to include 'some signage' inside the ballpark and 'some blockage' of rooftop clubs even after attempts to 'minimize' the number of obstructions." Spielman notes Emanuel is "prepared to lift the 30-game-per-season ceiling on the number of night games to 44 or 45 games, with some of the dates reserved for concerts." Six-to-10 3:05 p.m. starts also could "be part of the mix." Spielman: "But none of that will happen before fence-mending" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/21). ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg regarding the suburb of Rosemont, Ill.'s offer to build the Cubs a new stadium there wrote, "You know it's silly season for the Chicago Cubs' never-ending Wrigley Field saga when someone suggests they move to Rosemont and people take it seriously." Greenberg: "You think the Cubs draw 3 million every year to watch the Chris Rusins of the world? You think all the booze hounds who frequent Wrigley in the summer would be thrilled to jump on the Blue Line?" The Rosemont Cubs idea "isn't a real plan, so I feel dumber for even discussing it." But just to "end the chatter: Baseball teams don't move from the city to the suburbs" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/20).

COSTLY ERRORS? In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote, "I believe that Tom Ricketts now leads the Chicago Owners League in negotiating errors." Rosemont's offer "came out of nowhere and seemed to be met with suspicion, but remember, things get done in Rosemont." Stuff "gets built there." So you "can’t necessarily rule out the legitimacy of Rosemont’s offer." But you "can officially rule out Ricketts’ viability as a owner who gets what he needs for his business." Ricketts "didn’t play the move card when the family bought the team." Rosenbloom: "In fact, he gave up his greatest negotiating weapon on Day One when he said the family wouldn’t leave Wrigley." Ricketts "had a chance to add to his negotiating game." He "had a chance to speed up a deal with the city even if he faked the whole thing." Rosenbloom: "But no. Ricketts remains the stooge in this case." He "absolutely should’ve taken all the steps toward a new park." Showing serious interest in Rosement would have "drawn a reaction from Cubs fans" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/20).
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