SBD/June 28, 2013/Facilities

Wrigley Renovations Only Partially Approved For Now; Tunney Makes New Demand

Alderman Tom Tunney does not want the Cubs to extend the right-and left-field walls
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).
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