Emanuel: City, Cubs Nearing Deal On Wrigley Field Renovation Plan
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city is nearing a deal with the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Mayor Emanuel points out that Wrigley Field is a private entity, and his job is to represent the taxpayers in talks with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and his team.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
He says anything the city does to enhance the value of the Friendly Confines should be along with what the owners undertake themselves.
“I will not put my money in their field so they can take their money, and invest around the field, and get a greater economic value,” Emanuel said. “If it’s important, they should invest there. We’ve had good conversations on the final stages of that.”
Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn still don’t have a deal to announce regarding renovations to Wrigley, but they appear to be standing firm together.
“I think the mayor and I are on the same wave length,” Quinn said at a forum with Emanuel to discuss the city’s and state’s financial issues. “We don’t think that the team should have the public paying for fixing up their stadium. They bought it. They paid for it.”
Emanuel said the Ricketts family did so long after the bottom dropped out of the stock market.
“It’s an important institution. It’s the fourth most-visited tourist attraction in the city of Chicago,” he said. “That said, it’s a private company. They bought it. They bought it in 2009, eyes open, well aware.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
Aside from that, from Emanuel’s standpoint, it’s the less said, the better, until or unless agreement is reached.
“Their money has to go into the stadium,” he said. “It has to be in front of any public help.”
Emanuel said he speaks regularly on the Wrigley Field issue with Quinn, their staffs speak regularly and that “people get briefed.”
The Cubs want to use $200 million in public funds to construct the long-planned Triangle Building along Clark Street in front of the ballpark. The Triangle Building would house team offices, a restaurant and parking, and would feature a Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame, a Cubs Pro Shop, and new ticket windows.
The only structure on the “triangle” site, the former Yum-Yum Donuts building, was torn down two years ago. Part of the site is now used as an ice rink during the winter months.
The Ricketts family also wants to use amusement tax revenue to fund the renovation, but Mayor Emanuel has not said whether he supports that plan.
Since-retired Mayor Richard M. Daley blocked a plan that would have used amusement taxes collected through ticket sales, but published reports last year indicated that said Mayor Emanuel was interested in a plan that would still have called for up to $200 million in public funds to aid a $400 million reconstruction of the ballpark.
The Ricketts family has also begun purchasing property on the blocks surrounding Wrigley Field, including the lot across Clark Street from the ballpark where a McDonald’s now stands.
Wrigley Field will celebrate its centennial anniversary in two years.