Ricketts threatens to move Cubs without OK for Wrigley upgrades

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By Ameet Sachdev Tribune reporter

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts for the first time threatened to move the team out of Wrigley Field if the team doesn’t get approval for more signs in the outfield, including a giant video scoreboard.

He made the remark in answer to a question during an event at the City Club of Chicago Wednesday, after unveiling plans for $300 million in upgrades to the nearly 100-year-old baseball stadium.

The team’s renovation proposal calls for re-creating green terra-cotta canopies, along with the windows and wrought-iron fencing, that graced parts of Wrigley’s exterior in the 1930s, according to drawings released to the media Tuesday.

At the same time, Kenney insisted the team needs to make more money to compete, thus the proposed addition of more than 41,000 square feet of signs to the stadium’s interior and surrounding neighborhood.

The plans call for a 6,000-square-foot, three-panel video screen atop the left field wall that would be topped by lights illuminating the power alleys in right and left field. There also would be a 1,000-square-foot sign in right field and four new signs ringing the outfield. Those include two new LED signs akin to the one introduced in right field last year.

While all that, if approved, would change the interior look of the stadium, the area just beyond Wrigley also would take on a different, and far more commercial, appearance. Advertising would adorn a proposed seven-story hotel at the northwest corner of Clark and Addison streets and six-story retail-office building on the triangular parcel west of the stadium. They would be linked by a walkway over Clark with its own sign.

Nonvideo, or static, ads would top the 91-foot-tall hotel, as well as the clock tower on the office building. A three-panel video screen would be placed on the office building, inside the plaza, where seven obelisks would carry more static ads. Banners featuring team sponsors would hang from the hotel, facing Clark.

Change also would come to the southeast corner of the stadium, where the site of the Captain Morgan Club would be replaced with a two-story structure topped by signs and a deck.

Add in the updated concourses, expanded bathrooms, improved player areas and outdoor terraces, and the broader idea is to give the stadium modern amenities, create a town square for Wrigleyville and generate more revenue, both to cover the cost of the renovation and provide revenue for team development, Kenney said.

“We have to generate new revenue,” he said. “We have to catch up to our large-market competitors on ballpark revenues, so this project has to work from a financial perspective as well.”

Tribune reporters Hal Dardick and Bill Ruthhart contributed

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC


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