Chicago Cubs ownership makes it clear: Let them make changes to Wrigley Field, or they’re taking their ball and going to a new home.
“If we don’t have the ability to generate revenue in our own outfield, then we’ll have to take a look at moving, no question,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Wednesday.
That is what Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said, but did he mean it?
“I don’t believe he meant that,” said Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward. Wrigley Field is in Tunney’s ward. “We’ve come a long way. We’re going to stay together.”
Imagine the Wrigleyville neighborhood without Wrigley Field. Now, imagine it with a new and improved Wrigley: Billboards in right field, a 6,000-foot jumbtron in left field, advertising on a nearby hotel and above the proposed clocktower. The plan would update the interior of the park, expand its bathrooms and improve player areas.
The price tag? $500 million.
The rooftop owners and the rest of us are getting our first glimpse of the controversial 6,000 square-foot scoreboard in left field that would generate millions for the team. Millions, Ricketts claims, that could be used to pay for a stronger lineup. Without the advertising, he says, he can’t deliver.
“We can’t go forward and consider Wrigley economically viable if we don’t have control of what we do in the outfield. It’s just too important to the team and the resources the team needs to compete,” Rickets said.
“One of the reasons we had the framework was there is now certainty around what they needed. There will be a jumbotron in left field. There will be signage in right field,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Beth Murphy of Murphy’s Bleachers says she just wants a seat at the table as plans are firming up. Her neighborhood without Wrigley Field? “I don’t think a new ballpark in a parking lot is interesting, and that’s why other ballparks don’t have the tourism that Wrigley Field does,” she said.
The timing of all of this? No deadline for the proposal yet, but once approved — if approved — it will take five consecutive off-seasons to complete.
Here are renderings of the most recently proposed Wrigley Field renovations: