Reporting Jay Levine
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Cubs and their Wrigleyville neighbors appeared close to an agreement Tuesday to give Cubs owners the green light for their planned renovation of the team’s landmark stadium.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports a deal to modernize Wrigley Field and build a nearby hotel complex could happen just before or shortly after the Cubs’ home opener next Monday.
The team’s self-imposed Monday deadline for an agreement came and went, but all sides were still talking on Tuesday, and sources said they’ll continue to talk as long as progress is being made.
At Clark and Addison on Tuesday, crews were putting the finishing touches on the legendary but deteriorating ballpark for the home opener against the Brewers on Monday.
The Village of Rosemont was still waiting in the wings on Tuesday, having offered the Cubs free land, a lower tax rate, more parking, and easier access if the Cubs move there.
Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens has offered the Ricketts family a 25-acre parcel for a new stadium and parking structure – as well as anything else the Cubs wanted to build.
The Cubs originally set an April 1 deadline to finish a deal on long-term improvements for Wrigley Field, but contrary to earlier reports, a dispute over a Jumbotron-type video screen and its impact on views from rooftop clubs wasn’t the only sticking point.
Local residents also have expressed concerns about parking and congestion, given the Cubs plans for an open air plaza on the triangle-shaped parking lot on Clark Street; as well as a new hotel across the street, on land bought from McDonalds in 2011.
The community has raised concerns about the ambitious expansion plans, and more night games at Wrigley, and how they would affect traffic and overall congestion in the area.
But the dispute isn’t really the Cubs vs. the mayor. The mayor’s office has been acting much like a mediator in the dispute between the community represented by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs.
Issues like additional remote parking, more security, and new video scoreboards and signs inside the stadium were still on the table when the April 1 deadline came and went.
“I did not set the deadline,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday.
The Ricketts set that deadline on an agreement to pave way for their plan to spend $300 million on the ballpark – without any taxpayer assistance – in addition to building the $200 million hotel.
As for plans to replace the triangle parking lot with an open air plaza, the lost parking spaces would be replaced by a new parking structure one block north of the stadium, on a lot already owned by the Cubs. That would solve one problem holding up a deal.
Other concerns include neighborhood security for the extra night and late afternoon games the Cubs want, as well as what might be the stickiest problem, despite affecting the fewest people: the views from the rooftop clubs across the street.
The club owners have big money invested in those rooftop seats, and agreements with the Cubs which protect the views.
Last week, sources told WBBM Newsradio’s George Ofman that the Cubs want a 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard in left field. But the rooftop clubs are worried such a large video screen would obstruct their views of the stadium, and sources said the city wants to limit the screen to no more than 3,000 square feet.
But Levine was told the reason the deal is taking so long is not the rooftops, it’s having to start all over again after the Cubs decided not to seek any city funding for the $500 million stadium and hotel project.