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The Cubs on Thursday "earned a partial victory" in the club's bid for $300M in renovations to Wrigley Field, getting a preliminary signoff from Chicago's Landmarks Commission to "move back the outfield walls and make other changes to the aging ballpark," according to John Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. However, consideration of the "most controversial aspect" of the renovation -- "two new giant signs in the outfield bleachers -- was put off until next month." The commission on Thursday "essentially voted on a promise by the Cubs that the team will request city permits that meet the agreed standards in the landmarked parts of Wrigley." If the panel also "approves the big outfield signs, the entire proposal" then would go to the city Plan Commission. If that group "gives approval, the project then would go to the City Council Zoning Committee for an up-or-down vote." The project from there would "head to the full City Council." Parts of the Wrigleyville development plan proposed for outside the ballpark, including a $200M hotel and a pedestrian bridge to connect the hotel to Wrigley, will "be considered by the Plan Commission and aldermen at later dates" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/28).
WHEELIN' & DEALIN': In Chicago, Fran Spielman reports city Alderman Tom Tunney on Thursday made any chance at compromise between his office and the team "a bit more difficult by adding a sixth demand: that the Cubs scrap plans to extend the right-and left-field walls outward to provide more interior space for concessions and concourses and minimize the impact of outfield signs on rooftop views." Spielman: "Never mind that Tunney had agreed to the larger stadium footprint in the framework agreement hammered out in April by Mayor Rahm Emanuel." Tunney said, "This means two things: the introduction of a public subsidy into the proposal and allowing for an increase in their interior scope, thereby facilitating more signage -- bigger signs." He "later clarified his stand." Tunney said that he is "not totally opposed to moving the brick walls." He "just doesn’t want to move them quite as much as the Cubs want" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/28).
A FAMILY AFFAIR: CHICAGO MAGAZINE’s Bryan Smith profiles the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, and writes Chair Tom Ricketts is a “mild-mannered guy” who almost “never raises his voice, nor does he register displeasure.” But some people who have watched Ricketts “at the negotiating table ... say not to be fooled.” DC-based attorney Alfred Levitt, who helped Ricketts close the deal for the Cubs, said, “He’s a smart, very purposeful guy who delivers in a measured and unflappable way. I’m not an expert in Chicago politics. I’ve heard similar comments, that you have to be able to brass-knuckle it or whatever. But I actually think that Tom is an incredibly effective person at getting things done” (CHICAGO MAGAZINE, 7/ ’13 issue).
Upcoming events at Gillette Stadium "could be in jeopardy if lawyers for The Kraft Group and Foxborough officials fail to strike a deal by July 5 over who should pay liability insurance at the popular venue," according to Michele Morgan Bolton of the BOSTON GLOBE. The groups have agreed to "meet one more time to figure out a solution." The controversy "springs from a lawsuit filed against the town last year by ticketholders who said they were wrongly detained by police on alcohol issues at a Bruce Springsteen concert and the New England Country Music Festival." The town's insurance policy shows that Foxborough "used to pay a $7,500 deductible for every injured party in a potential claim ... but the amount has now been raised to $50,000 a person." Board of Selectmen Chair Mark Sullivan and other officials said that the town "cannot be put in such a vulnerable financial and legal position." A pact is "needed for upcoming shows." Town officials issued "conditional licenses for the events in January but warned the Krafts they had just 30 days to comply with a request for insurance indemnification for the events for the permits to become official." But that time period "came and went, and the time frame was repeatedly extended until the most recent deadline was set" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/28).
A makeover to south end zone seating at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium has been on the "wish list" of AD Morgan Burke, according to Nathan Baird of the Lafayette JOURNAL & COURIER. Burke and a panel of athletic department, facilities and capital planning personnel on Wednesday "listened to three proposals from HNBT Architecture." They favored an "option featuring an indoor club with rooftop terrace seating below a video board that stretches nearly from sideline to sideline." Decorative bridges would "connect the terrace seating with stands in the stadium’s southeast and southwest corners." Also included were "installation of a new sound system and a second video board, approximately two-thirds the size of the one currently in the south end zone, in the north horseshoe." The loss of the 7,000 bleacher seats "currently in the south end zone, combined with the added terrace seating, would reduce Ross-Ade’s capacity of 62,500 by about 5,000." Burke would not "provide a timetable or cost estimates, though he said the project could be completed in one offseason and would cost 'nowhere near'" the $70M spent on renovations in '03 (Lafayette JOURNAL & COURIER, 6/27).
In Tennessee, Jason Smith notes the Univ. of Memphis' basketball court at FedExForum will have a new design which "includes the city skyline and the Hernando DeSoto Bridge." It also will "feature an enlarged Memphis Tiger at midcourt" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/28). SPORTING NEWS' Mike DeCourcy wrote schools re-designing their courts is a "putrid trend." DeCourcy: "You want to put your school’s logo or mascot -- or, for state universities, an outline of the state itself -- at center court, that’s fine. I’ll ask this, however: What’s on the middle of the court at Duke? At Kentucky? At Louisville? Can anyone picture it? We don’t talk about how their floors are designed." No one "leaves Allen Fieldhouse talking about how cool the court design is." But "they remember they were there" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/26).
FEELING BLUE: In Ann Arbor, Kellie Woodhouse noted Michigan Stadium's $6M "paint job," which began in April, is "roughly half complete and will finish mid-August." A $2.8M, 48-foot-wide video marquee is "being installed now and will be fully functional by late July." Crews are "connecting it to a control room in Crisler Center." The marquee has "audio capabilities, stands 21 feet above the ground and is 27 feet tall" (ANNARBOR.com, 6/27).
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE: In New Orleans, Tammy Nunez noted in "just a couple of weeks," Tulane's Yulman Stadium's 125-foot-tall light poles "will be installed." The next phase of construction includes "erecting the steel shell of the stadium, with the west side set to be built in July." The press box and stadium seats "will come next." The stadium is scheduled to open in time for the '14 season (NOLA.com, 6/26).
MOUNTAIN MEN: Installation of a new FieldTurf playing surface at the Univ. of Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium "was completed Thursday." Features include "images of the Teton Mountains in both end zones, and the lettering '7220 Feet' along the sidelines, a nod to the stadium's NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision-leading elevation." The $750,000 cost of the project was "funded by private donations" (CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE, 6/28).
In Ottawa, Don Campbell writes the city council is "assured of having at least one serious bid to lease and renovate Ottawa Stadium when it convenes in September to consider the long-term future of the dilapidated facility." A source Thursday said that Mandalay Sports Properties has "prepared a bid for the stadium that would include" Blue Jays Owner Rogers Communications with partner Professional Sports Catering "assisting in a total re-configuration of the stadium." That would "allow for a Double-A Eastern League franchise to re-locate to Ottawa in time for Opening Day 2015." Rogers’ involvement would "include naming rights at the stadium and would be the first visible step toward the Blue Jays re-locating their affiliate from New Hampshire to Ottawa" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/28).
BUCK SHOT: In Milwaukee, Don Walker reports BMO Harris Bradley Center is "expanding its footprint." Arena officials and the Milwaukee Development Corp. announced Thursday a partnership that will enable the arena to "purchase property owned by the Milwaukee Area Technical College." The arena per the agreement will "purchase the half-acre property with funds from a low-interest loan from the MDC." The purchase price is "approximately" $1M (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/28).
PREACHING TO THE CHOIR: In Atlanta, Leslie & Stafford note with negotiations between the city and Friendship Baptist Church "at a standstill, Mayor Kasim Reed is trying a new tack in efforts to secure land for the new Falcons stadium: leaving the historic church just where it is." Reed on Wednesday said that his administration has found a way to build the new $1B stadium "without forcing the 151-year-old church to move." However, that move would "leave Friendship Baptist in the shadows of the behemoth new stadium, proposed to be 1.8 million square feet, which would make it larger than the Georgia Dome" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/27).