SBD/December 12, 2013/Facilities

Cubs Approved For More Wrigley Field Changes, But Rooftops Holding Up Construction

Chicago approved the Cubs to install an archway with ads outside Wrigley Field
Chicago aldermen yesterday "voted to allow the Cubs to put up an arch with advertising over Clark Street between the hotel across the street from Wrigley and the plaza slated for a triangular parcel just west of the ballpark," according to Hal Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The arch "replaces a proposed bridge linking the plaza and hotel that met resistance from neighbors and Plan Commission members." The team "agreed to move the hotel entrance off residential Patterson Avenue and eliminate a hotel balcony overhanging Patterson where alcohol would have been served." The Cubs also "will be allowed to play up to 43 regular-season night games, instead of the 46 approved in June, but with more flexibility to shift day games to night games without prior approval." Additionally, the Cubs "will be able put up already-approved new signage -- including the 5,700-square-foot video board in left field -- with minimal further red tape." The team also "will be allowed to push the exterior right field wall back 15 feet, cutting out street parking on Sheffield Avenue, and the left-field wall back 16 feet, eliminating street parking on Waveland Avenue." To compensate for about 58 lost spaces, the team "will provide free parking to neighborhood residents in nearby lots." Despite the franchise having been award funding for ballpark improvements in July, Cubs execs have indicated that work related to the stadium project "hasn't started." The holdup is Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts' "insistence that the owners of nearby rooftop clubs with lucrative views into the ballpark agree not to sue the team over sightlines that might be blocked by the digital billboard or a 'see-through' advertising sign planned for right field" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/12).

WINNING THE WINDY CITY: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan writes of the offseason efforts of the Cubs and White Sox, "There's no question as to which team has won the public relations battle in their dual efforts to resuscitate last-place teams." The White Sox "are at least giving the impression they're trying to compete and win back fans" with acquisitions such as 1B Jose Abreu and CF Adam Eaton, and re-signing DH Paul Konerko. But the Cubs appear to be "using their stalemate with rooftop owners as an excuse not to spend." White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf is "obviously in no mood for a long rebuild," allowing GM Rick Hahn to "make a flurry of moves since July to try to win as quickly as possible." But Ricketts is "patiently waiting for rooftop owners to capitulate" before giving Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein the "necessary revenue to compete in one of the strongest divisions in baseball" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/12).
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