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Chicago Sun-Times
FRAN SPIELMAN. City Hall Reporter

The Cubs offered Thursday to drop plans to install larger outfield doors that disturb Wrigley Field's landmarked ivy-covered walls, angered Mayor Rahm Emanuel and threatened speedy approval of the team's revised expansion plan.

Emanuel mentioned the bullpen plan this week in declaring his handpicked Commission on Chicago Landmarks would not consider the new Wrigley renovation plan at its June 5 meeting. The plan calls for seven outfield signs, including a second video scoreboard, 300 new seats, 300 standing-room positions and new outfield lights 92 feet high.

Room for some new seats would be created by moving the bullpens from foul territory to an area beneath the expanded bleachers that gives relief pitchers a view of the field. The larger bullpen doors were part of that plan.

That blindsided and infuriated Emanuel, whose administration had spent months working with the Cubs to finalize the expanded sign plan.

On Thursday, the Cubs acknowledged the team's failure to communicate with City Hall and offered to pull the larger bullpen doors off the table to get the project back on track for what the team hopes will be a July groundbreaking.

"We believe the larger doors would be more advantageous to the players, but if we need to keep the doors as they are, we'll live with it. We have communicated that to the Landmarks Commission. We have not received a response," said Cubs spokesman Julian Green.

"There were documents provided to the city [earlier], but the focal point of our conversations have always been about the sign plan and bleacher expansion. If the bullpen doors were missed or the city believes it wasn't clearly identified, we'll take responsibility for that."

Green said some brick will have to be replaced during the $375 million project because it is "deteriorated and dates back to the ballpark's origins." In fact, brick in the left-field wall was replaced this year, forcing the Cubs to "harvest the ivy."

But, he said, "If this gives the Landmarks Commission too much grief, we just won't expand the doors or take any additional brick out."

The mayor's office promised to review the latest offer.

"We will look at their proposal thoroughly and work with them to ensure it is complete and they will be able to present it to the Landmarks Commission," said mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton.


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May 30, 2014




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