SBD/August 2, 2013/Facilities

Cubs Prepared To Erect Some Signs At Wrigley If Rooftop Owners Won't Avoid Litigation

A Jumbotron at Wrigley could require moving back the outfield walls
The Cubs have threatened to "take immediate advantage of the authority the City Council gave them to put up a 650-square foot see-through sign" in the right field of Wrigley Field if rooftop club owners "won’t agree not to sue to block the stadium renovation project," according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green said, "We will not start renovations to the ballpark until we resolve the remaining issues with the rooftops. However, that does not preclude us from putting up signs in the outfield." Cubs Senior VP/Community Affairs & General Counsel Mike Lufrano added, "The Jumbotron does require moving the walls back. The right-field sign you could conceivably put inside the ballpark without moving the wall back. ... We hope (for) a global solution that everybody is happy with. But if there were a time when we realized it wasn’t going to happen, approval for those signs has been granted and you could put up some of those signs." Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Wrigleyville community leaders earlier this week "opened the door to resolving the dispute between the Cubs and the rooftops by allowing a deck that would hover over and darken Sheffield Avenue." Sources said that a rooftop club owner "first suggested the Sheffield deck ... but it was confined to just a couple of buildings." The Cubs "countered with a much larger deck that would extend for most of the block but only if the rooftops agreed not to sue to block the outfield signs that would largely bankroll" the $500M project (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/2).

SWEETENING THE POT: In Chicago, Hal Dardick reports the Chicago Landmarks Commission on Thursday "endorsed the tax relief" available to "land owners who rehabilitate historic structures." The tax break is "estimated to be worth" $8.1M. The City Council also will "have to approve" the relief to the Ricketts family. Cubs attorney Thomas Tully said that property tax payments on the ballpark even with the tax break "still will be higher after the work is done because the renovation adds value to the stadium." Tully added that the team now "pays about $1.5 million a year in property taxes on Wrigley." Dardick notes Wrigley will be "assessed at 10 percent of its value for the first 10 years after the renovation." The property in the 11th year will be "assessed at 15 percent, and in the 12th at 20 percent." The assessments come Year 13 will "increase to the full 25 percent level placed on commercial property." Cubs attorney David Reifman said that even with the break, projections show the team would pay $31.2M "in property taxes during the 12-year period" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/2).
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