Story Summary

Wrigley Field renovation

The Ricketts Family, which owns the Cubs, say they’ll pay the $300-million to rehab Wrigley Field, if some city restrictions are lifted.

Some of their plans include erecting more signs at the park to help raise more revenue; but new signs could block the view of the field from some of the neighbors’ rooftop clubs.

The Cubs also want to add night games and build a hotel in the neighborhood; both proposals raise issues of added traffic congestion, scarce parking, and public safety.

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Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney sent a letter with a list of demands to the Cubs tonight asking them to scale back plans for Wrigley renovations.

Foremost among them, the 44th Ward alderman wants the size of a left-field video scoreboard and a right-field advertising sign cut.  He also wants them to scrap plans for a pedestrian walkway over Clark St that would connect Wrigley Field with a new hotel.

The Cubs say they need the revenue the project would generate. A spokesperson for the team issued a statement tonight saying, “When we agreed with the city to move forward with the planned development process, our plans included many of these elements to deliver the resources we need to fund the project and create additional revenue to put back into the team.  Anything less hampers our ability to make a $500 million investment without public support.”

The first city hall hearing on the renovations plans is scheduled for tomorrow.

 

Another suburban politician is looking to woo the Cubs if they can’t get their deal to rehab Wrigley Field approved by Chicago.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin says he’s given the go ahead to the county’s economic development board to begin scouting for potential stadium sites.

Cronin adds that in the last couple weeks, he’s heard from people in the Cubs organization and the Ricketts family that it is not a long shot that the team would leave Chicago.

He cites a lack of progress between the Cubs and the city on a $500 million renovation plan.

But Cubs spokesman Dennis Culloton says the team is still working on approval from the city.

Last week the City Council approved an increase in night games and concert dates from 30 to 46.

A few weeks ago Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens offered the Cubs free land to build a stadium if they chose to leave the friendly confines.

Chicago city council was busy Wednesday and approved several measure of high interest including changes to the parking meters deal and adding more Cubs games at Wrigley at night.

First, after a lengthy debate, the council voted 39-11 and approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial plan to change the terms of the city’s parking meter lease despite questions about the deal’s financial impact and fear of giving Chicago Parking Meters LLC another windfall.

That deal gave Chicago Parking Meters LLC the right to collect all revenue from the meters for 75 years in exchange for an upfront cash payment to the city of $1.15 million — all but $125 million of which was spent by the time Emanuel took office in mid-2011.

It also led to soaring meter rates and city payments of tens of millions of dollars for more unpaid parking by people with disabled placards and loss of revenue due to the city taking meters out of service than allowed under the contract.

Under Emanuel’s changes, the city reduced its payment for meters out of service during the past two years to $8.9 million from about $50 million. The meter company also agreed to change the way it calculates meters out of service, which the mayor’s top lieutenants say will reduce penalty payments by $1 billion during the remaining 71 years of the lease.

The more controversial part of the mayor’s changes involved the trade-off of free Sunday parking outside the central business district for longer hours at all metered spaces that require payment until 9 p.m. In most areas, those hours will be extended to 10 p.m. In River North, Streeterville and parts of the Gold Coast, hours will be extended until 12 p.m.
Also Wednesday, the council voted to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field.

The number of games will go from 30 to 46 and the Friendly Confines can host four concerts a year.

-Chicago Tribune contributed to this report

 

 

Wednesday’s Chicago City Council hearing could lead to changes for parking meters and Cubs night games.

The council is expected to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new parking meter deal.

The mayor says his plan would save the city about one billion dollars.

Some of that would be saved by reducing the penalties the city is being charged for out of service meters.

“This is a take it or leave it deal.  If you walk away from it, we go to court and take our chances of losing,” said 38th Ward Alderman Timothy Cullerton.

Emanuel is also offering free parking on Sundays in exchange for longer meter hours in some neighborhoods.

Several aldermen say they only support the changes because they’re better than what the city has now.

The City Council will also look at adding night games at Wrigley Field.

Tuesday, the City Council License Committee approved of raising the number of night games to 46.

The limit has been 30, since 2004.

The Cubs wanted more night games as part of their Wrigley Field renovation plans, but they’re still not happy.

They don’t like that the ordinance limits the number of games that can be held on Friday and Saturday nights.

Another clause would give the city authority in choosing when the Cubs can reschedule games that get rained out.

The Cubs say they’ll keep working on changing the plan, before today’s vote.

A panel of Chicago aldermen at City Hall voted in favor of allowing the Chicago Cubs to hold up to 46 night games each season.

The full city council could vote on the proposal Wednesday; but, the Cubs aren’t entirely pleased about the plan.

For example, if the team schedules more than four non-baseball events like concerts or college football games in a year, then they would count against the total number of night games in the following season.

Night games are a key part in the discussions between the Cubs and city leaders to renovate Wrigley Field.
   

City officials, 44th ward alderman and Tom Ricketts joined several Wrigley rooftop owners today to see first hand what the new signs and screens will look like at Wrigley Field.

The team blocked off Waveland Ave today to erect the mockup so the group could get some perspective and scale.

Cubs owners used a crane to drape two large curtains across the area today, dwarfing the Toyota signage that stands there now.

The current scoreboard, the landmark famous at Wrigley Field, is just 1700 feet. The new proposed jumbotron to the west of it would be more than three times that size.

wrigley-jumbotron

A mockup of proposed new signage is installed Tuesday at Wrigley Field. (Paul Sullivan/Tribune Photo)

Right field will likely get a see-through sign of its own. The Cubs placed a green wooden model up so the group knew what to expect along Sheffield as well.

While no rooftop owners would talk on camera about it, one told WGN News it will put him out of business. Another simply said, “It’s big.”

The Rooftop Owners Association released an official statement saying, “We know one thing for sure: Signs on the Rooftops have no obstruction of our patrons’ views and remain the best solution to provide sign revenue to the team.”

The Cubs meanwhile suggest today’s show and tell today is an attempt to educate everyone involved in the proposed renovation process saying, “This is all part of an evaluation process as we work to come up with the best locations for our proposed signs while minimizing the impact to our rooftop partners.”

The Wrigley Field renovation deal is expected to be introduced in the Chicago City Council today.  Aldermen are also expected to take up the question of more night games at Wrigley.

There are a number of significant items on the Council agenda today, but not the controversial closings of over 50 city schools.  Protesters provided a rousing start to the meeting this morning.

Over a dozen protesters were escorted out of the Council chambers after interrupting the invocation.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not react to the disturbance and the meeting proceeded to address city business.

The Wrigley renovation plan in the ward of Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) is expected to come up at some point.

Aldermen will eventually vote on raising the Cubs’ night game cap from 30 to 40 games a year.  The team is seeking approval for that, the installation of a 6,000 square foot Jumbotron, and other revenue-generating allowances.

A few Aldermen are already predicting a Cubs win at City Hall, despite the concerns of many Wrigleyville residents.

The renegotiation of the city’s parking meter deal, and the exemption of certain non-profit Chicago institutions from city water payments are also expected to be addressed in the Council today.

The Chicago Cubs now have another option in the event their plan to renovate Wrigley Field falls through.

Cicero is offering the Cubs free land and more freedom to build a new ball park.

Town spokesperson Ray Hanania says, “What`s holding the Cubs back are the restrictions of an outmoded stadium … the Cubs are playing baseball in a straightjacket… if they were to come to Cicero, the restrictions would be lifted … we`d be talking about World Series contenders.”

The offer includes more night games and plenty of signs and advertising billboards.

But the Cubs are making it clear, they intend to pursue the renovation of Wrigley Field instead.

An outline of the Wrigley project will be presented to the City Council today, along with mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to add ten night games per season to the Wrigley schedule.

The Cubs now have another option if their plan to renovate Wrigley Field falls through.

Cicero is offering the Cubs free land to build a new ball park, and fewer restrictions on night games and stadium signs.

Town officials say, “If the cubs were to come to Cicero, the restrictions would be lifted. We’d be talking about World Series contenders.’

But the Cubs aren’t jumping at the offer…at least not yet.

The suburbs that want the Cubs say the team is hampered by the neighborhood restrictions on its current home.

A jumbotron, a Clark street plaza, and more night games at Wrigley Field? Cubs leaders are hoping the public buys in; otherwise, another suburb offers the moon for the team to move.

Cicero is offering the Cubs free land and more freedom to build a new ball park.

Julie Unruh has the full story.

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