Wrigley Renovation Deal Expected Soon
Updated 04/08/13 – 3:05 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs and the City of Chicago are in the process of finalizing a deal for the renovation of Wrigley Field.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports sources had pointed to today, but finalizing what’s described as “substantial agreement” has taken longer than expected, with “i”s are being dotted, “t”s crossed and language being scrubbed by attorneys.
Earlier in the day, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said talks are “productive,” and he’s confident an agreement will be reached, but he declined to say when a deal would be complete, or to provide any details on the final deal.
“We’ve been working through the weekend. We’re really committed to the city, and committed to working with the mayor’s office and the alderman to keep moving our project forward, and look forward to getting it done,” Ricketts said Monday morning.
Ricketts would not say if an agreement would be ready for announcement before the home opener, but said talks were “productive” and “moving forward.”
The Cubs and city officials have been discussing plans for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, as well as a $200 million hotel across the street, all of which would be funded entirely by the Ricketts family. The team is also seeking additional night games.
Most of the stadium is protected by landmark status, so virtually any changes to the ballpark would require approval from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and the City Council. Additional night games also would require City Council approval.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has been seeking assurances of more remote parking as part of any deal to renovate Wrigley. He’s also expressed concerns shared by local residents about how additional night games would affect congestion and security in the neighborhood.
As part of their five-year renovation plan, the Cubs want to install a Jumbotron-style video screen in left field. The team has been seeking a screen as large as 6,000 square feet, but the city wants a much smaller screen.
The owners of the rooftop clubs across the street from Wrigley Field also have threatened to file a lawsuit against any renovation plans that would allow for a video screen that would obstruct the existing views from the rooftops.
The Cubs and the rooftop owners have 11 years left on a 20-year revenue sharing deal, which requires the 16 rooftop clubs to share 17 percent of their revenues with the team. The deal also requires the Cubs to compensate rooftop owners if their views are obstructed by changes to the ballpark.
Ricketts said he’s confident the team will be able to work out any disputes with the rooftop owners over how a video screen would affect their views.
“We’ll get through that. Right now, we’re just trying to kind of figure out how everything’s gonna look, and have everything in place,” he said. “We’ll be sensitive to certain issues when it comes to placement of those things, so I’m pretty confident we’ll all be alright in the end.”
He also said he doesn’t believe the video screen would have as big an impact on rooftop views as some critics have claimed.
“I think we’ll work through that, and I think when we’re ready to talk about it, everyone will understand,” he said. “I think it’s a lot less dramatic than people make it out to be.”
The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association has said any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business. They have vowed to fight the Cubs in court if that happens.
“We reserve judgment until said proposals are publicized, however we are deeply troubled that 16 small businesses were not party to talks where their contractual rights were at stake,” Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers and spokesperson for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said in a statement. “Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We support a renovated Wrigley Field, but the neighborhood and its businesses should be partners in the debate as we have over the last 30 years.”