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Chicago Sun-Times
FRAN SPIELMAN. City Hall Reporter

The Cubs on Tuesday showcased - and put a $75 million price tag on - their revised plan to add more signs, seats and lights at Wrigley Field and said if the team is not allowed to "control our ballpark," it would consider moving and look first at other Chicago sites.

That brings the overall cost of renovating Wrigley and developing the land around it to $575 million.

The added cost is tied to several new features. They include: a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse in a two-level basement beneath an outdoor plaza; adding a 200-seat restaurant and 200-person auditorium behind the home dugout; adding three or four rows of bleacher seats and claiming even more seats by relocating the home and visiting bullpens from foul territory to a protected area beneath the expanded bleachers that gives relief pitchers a view of the field.

"If there's one good thing that came out of the delay - and it's the only good thing - is it gave us a chance to see our players in Arizona. It gave us a chance to see how they used the new place there. And it caused us to rethink a couple of things," Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations, said of the expanded clubhouse.

Last year, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the City Club of Chicago he would "have to consider" leaving century-old Wrigley if he was not allowed to put up the outfield signs he needs to bankroll a $300 million renovation of the landmark stadium.

At the time, the focus was on Rosemont's offer of free land to build a Wrigley replica and on the overtures made to the Cubs by DuPage County.

On Tuesday, Kenney renewed the threat with a new wrinkle - another site in Chicago - when asked what the Cubs would do if rooftop club owners succeed in blocking the influx of outfield signs.

"If we don't control our ballpark, then we have to look at other options, and we would work with the city on that. . . . We would first look in the city," Kenney said.

"That would be what would happen, but those conversations have not occurred at any level. . . . Everyone believes this project is moving forward. We're all excited. The city, obviously, would love to see this move forward, as would the team and our fans. So, our focus has been 100 percent on Wrigley Field and moving this forward," Kenney said.

In fact, Kenney said the Cubs have worked hand-in-glove with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration in recent months to develop the plan that includes seven outfield signs, including two video scoreboards, and literally dares rooftop club owners to sue.

For example, Kenney said city landmark officials insisted that there be a "65-foot buffer" between the manual scoreboard in center field and the video boards in right and left fields. City Hall further demanded that there be "at least 20 feet between each of the seven outfield signs and that each of the four new LED signs added to the two video scoreboards be no more than 650 square feet.

If the Cubs are hoping for approval at the June 5 meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, they're in for a rude awakening, according to Matt Hynes, Emanuel's director of intergovernmental affairs.

"It was known that the Cubs were going to submit a full sign plan to the commission, which is their right. But no one knew about their other changes, such as moving the bullpens. This is a material change that is going to require a thorough review. It's hard to imagine this will be ready to go next week," Hynes said.

As for Kenney's renewed threat to leave Wrigley if the Cubs are not allowed to "control" their own ballpark, Hynes said, "Mayor Emanuel believes the Cubs belong at Wrigley Field and should stay at Wrigley Field. They're talking about the possibility of other sites. We've been focused on one thing: keeping the Cubs at Wrigley. That's what's best for the Cubs and the city."

Kenney insisted that he has no idea what impact, if any, the seven outfield signs would have on the view from rooftop clubs that share 17 percent of their revenues with the team. He argued that a "perfect view" may not even be required from rooftop patrons who are more interested in "tailgating" than watching the game.

Before forging ahead with the Cubs' "original" plan to renovate Wrigley and develop the land around it, Kenney said team officials explored a host of potential solutions to the rooftop controversy.

They ranged from extending a revenue-sharing agreement that has nine more years to run to reducing the 17 percent split and even buying out the rooftops. None of those ideas resolved the impasse.

Kenney pointed to a clause in the rooftop agreement that he and Cubs general counsel Mike Lufrano negotiated that essentially states that nothing in the agreement would preclude an expansion plan approved by the city.

Rooftop owners beg to differ.

Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said the lawsuit the Cubs seem determined to provoke will be filed shortly.

"A contract is a contract. It's unclear why the Cubs feel they can break a contract with rooftop owners, but they do not break contracts with vendors, baseball players or whomever," McLaughlin said.

Even if the court fight drags on, Kenney said the Cubs intend to start construction on the plaza in July and on the bleacher expansion this fall. The entire project is expected to be completed for the start of the 2018 season.

Email: fspielman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @fspielman

 

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From top: The Cubs released renderings of proposed concourses, the 3rd Base Club and an auditorium and interview area on Tuesday. Al Podgorski This rendering shows the three proposed scoreboards and new video screens in the Cubs' revised renovation plan. | COURTESY CHICAGO CUBS Al Podgorski This rendering shows a proposed dining area at Wrigley Field. Al Podgorski Al Podgorski From top: The Cubs released renderings of proposed concourses, the 3rd Base Club and an auditorium and interview area on Tuesday. Al Podgorski

 

May 28, 2014

 

 
 

 

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