Wrigley renovation plan includes neighborhood projects

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says today is a milestone for the Cubs.  He calls it a massive investment that will help the team bring home a World Series title.

Ricketts, City Hall and Alderman Tom Tunney (44th Ward) have agreed on a framework for a $500 million rehab of the century-old ball park.   The deal was sealed Saturday after several weeks of negotiations.

It was a big hurdle, but there are more to clear.  The Landmarks Commission, the Plan Commission and the City Council would all have to sign off on the deal.

The Cubs plan would build a hotel across the street, an office building with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two buildings over Clark.  It would extend the left field wall onto Waveland, install a Jumbotron-like screen in left field and a sign in right field.

The plan also includes 40 night games, up from 30; 4 concerts a year, up from 3; 1,000 free remote parking spaces with shuttle bus service; 30 additional security officers after games; and Sheffield would be closed during weekend games for street fairs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The Cubs will also contribute $1 million for a new park and a playlot on School Street and another $3.7 million to the community for other projects.  Ricketts says it will create jobs and economic opportunity.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the renovation plan is good for Wrigley Field and good for the neighborhood.

Negotiations began after Ricketts’ offer in January to pay for the renovations if the city relaxed landmark restrictions.

The Jumbotron was the key sticking point for rooftop owners who have threatened to sue over anything that blocked their views.  When asked about a potential lawsuit Ricketts responded, “We’ll take that as it comes”.

The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association released a statement today saying it will play an active role in the community process to approve the planned development or any changes to the Landmark Ordinance.

“We are pleased the Chicago Cubs will participate in a community process to flesh out these details more in-depth. However, no community process, city ordinance, or agreement without our consent can or should dismiss contractual rights granted to us by the Chicago Cubs in 2004,” the statement reads.  “Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We, as well as every interested party in the Lakeview neighborhood, will study the plans submitted to the City of Chicago and play a constructive role in moving forward.”

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