SBD/May 6, 2013/Facilities

Details Of Cubs' Proposed Signage Still Unclear; Could Murdoch Win Media Rights?

Wrigley Field's proposed scoreboard was hardly mentioned in a zoning application
The Cubs are "seeking permission" from the city of Chicago to place more than 35,000 square feet of signs on the exterior of Wrigley Field and outside the stadium as part of their $500M renovation plan, but the precise locations of the large outfield signs the club wants were "not included" in a zoning application filed with City Hall, according to Sachdev & Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The 63-page document indicates that the team wants to "install 6,560 square feet of signs on a planned hotel," and create a plaza "on a triangle-shaped parcel just west of the stadium" that would include 5,825 square feet of signs. The team also would like to "sell naming rights to a six-story office building it would like to construct on Waveland Avenue." However, the paperwork "barely mentions the biggest sign the Cubs would like to put up: a giant 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard behind the left field bleachers." The signs would "come in several styles, including banners, LED screens and ribbon board," and much of the space on them would be "devoted to advertising, featuring the names and logos of the team’s sponsors" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/4). In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wrote, "No matter how big it will be or where they will put it, there's little doubt the Cubs soon will erect a giant video board, probably in time for the ballpark's centennial celebration next year." The proposed jumbotron is "of the most debated parts of the club's renovation plan, but even some purists are giving way to progress." Sullivan offers advice on "how to create ballpark magic without dumbing down the experience." The advice includes "Avoid the 'Cams" and "No marriage proposals" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/5).

LATE-NIGHT TIP: In Chicago, Fran Spielman noted city Mayor Rahm Emanuel will "start delivering" this week on the "promises he made to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts by introducing an ordinance authorizing 40 night games per season at Wrigley Field." However, area residents are "anxiously awaiting the fine print." If the City Council agrees to "raise the night-game ceiling from 30 to 40, the Cubs have agreed to schedule just 35 of those dates and hold five in reserve for night games dictated" by MLB or its national television contract. If MLB "dictates more than five night games a season, the Cubs want" the City Council to "authorize it without 'counting' those games against the 40-game ceiling." Playoff games, re-scheduled games or the All-Star Game "would not count, either." All of that is "in addition to four concerts-per-season and six 3:05 p.m. starts on Friday afternoons." Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said, "It’s been averaging three to four a year. But under the new (TV contract), it could be more than that -- up to 11. That would happen if you were a playoff team headed toward a World Series." Sources "refused to disclose the fine print until the mayor introduces the ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/4).

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS: In Indiana, George Castle writes, "Lost in the hubbub of Tom Ricketts’ threat to move from Wrigley Field is the Cubs chairman’s desire for vastly increased TV rights fees that could bump WGN out of the picture for the first time in 65 years." The list of "suitors for the over-the-air rights portion may be small." Ricketts’ choices could be "limited to WGN and media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s Fox-32 and My-50 over-the-air stations." Ricketts would "likely want to remain on WGN," but that station's execs may "feel sticker shock when Ricketts presents his demands for broadcast money to approximate the megabucks of other major baseball markets." It is "hardly a slam-dunk" WGN will "retain the Cubs beyond 2014." Murdoch has "less network programming to clear on Fox-32," and he "has a 'shadow' station in My-50 for ballgames that conflict with Fox-32 entertainment shows." Murdoch has "no other logical well-heeled competitors in Chicago" (Northwest Indiana TIMES, 5/6).
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