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Community Residents Debate Wrigley Renovation

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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Updated 03/27/13 – 6:18 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The season hasn’t even started yet, but in Wrigleyville Tuesday night, they were talking baseball and what, if any changes, will really happen at the Friendly Confines.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, at a community meeting Tuesday night, one big issue on the minds of local residents, rooftop owners, and the Cubs was the team’s desire for a new Jumbotron-style video screen inside Wrigley.

Just days away from Opening Day, they are doing paint-up and fix-up on the old ballpark, and the Cubs are continuing to plan for their $300 million renovation of the Wrigley Field complex to begin after the season.

But the owners of the private rooftop bleachers across the street are not happy.

When asked whether she feels the Ricketts family is trying to pull a fast one on the rooftop owners, Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers, responded, ”Well it hasn’t been very fast. As the saying goes, it is hard to fight City Hall, and it is hard to fight billionaires too. “

The Cubs want to install a giant ad revenue producing video screen in the stands. The rooftop owners say it will block their customers’ views. They may sue.

“I hope it doesn’t get to that. As one of our rooftop owners says, as soon as you go to court you have already lost,” said Murphy.

Tuesday night, a Cubs community meeting brought out more critics of the huge renovation project. They say it threatens to turn Lakeview into Cubsville.

“This is not going to be a company town, the community is going to continue to put up the battle,” said Charlotte Neufeld.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said neither he nor Wrigleyville community leaders are worried about Rosemont’s overtures to the team about a possible move.

“We have a supportive, mature community that isn’t getting rattled over some of this stuff,” he said.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said talks continue day and night in search of an agreement on renovations. The team would like to achieve a deal by Monday.

“Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we agree. But the fact is we’re talking, talking is progress and that means we can hammer these issues out,” Green said.

Murphy said those talks apparently do not include the rooftop owners.

“I’m confident we can work out a solution,” she said. “I think we should get around the table again.”

The Association wants any new outfield signage placed on the rooftops, in order to preserve their view. She called it a “win-win” solution. But the Cubs have rejected such ideas, claiming ads on the rooftops wouldn’t generate the needed revenue, because they would not be easily visible during game broadcasts.