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CHICAGO (CBS) — A day after striking a $500 million deal with the city to renovate Wrigley Field and build a new hotel, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said the agreement would bring a World Series title to the North Side.
“If this plan is approved, we will win the World Series for our fans and our city. We need this project in order to bring our fans a winner,” he said.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the plan to rehab the historic stadium includes a massive video scoreboard in left field, more night games at Wrigley, street fairs outside the ballpark, and a new hotel across the street.
It’s the culmination of months of talks between the Ricketts family, Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), and the Emanuel administration.
If approved, much will change inside and outside Wrigley Field. For example, the right field wall would be extended ten feet out, swallowing up a lane of traffic.
It’s a landmark and a fan favorite, but after this season, Wrigley Field could start its transformation, if Ricketts gets his way on renovations and other plans for the stadium.
He promised the changes would help the Cubs win the long-elusive World Series trophy it has not captured in more than a century.
“As I’ve said since Day One, our primary goal is to win the World Series. The financial impact of this proposal will help us do that,” Ricketts said Monday morning.
The $500 million, Ricketts family-financed renovation deal was announced late Sunday night. Ricketts said it includes interior upgrades to the concourses, locker rooms and other player areas.
But details that will likely generate the most fan discussion is what will happen around exterior the ballpark.
In left field, a 6000-square-foot video scoreboard would go up – roughly three times the size of the current hand-operated scoreboard.
A see-through sign, like the Toyota sign in left field, would hover over right field.
Both the new sign and the video board would potentially block some of the views from rooftop clubs across the street.
Rooftop club owners have threatened to sue over any plans that would block their views.
On Monday, the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association released the following statement:
“We are pleased the Chicago Cubs will participate in a community process to flesh out these details more in-depth. However, no community process, city ordinance, or agreement without our consent can or should dismiss contractual rights granted to us by the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We, as well as every interested party in the Lakeview neighborhood, will study the plans submitted to the City of Chicago and play a constructive role in moving forward.”
The Cubs have said they will choose the location for the scoreboard and the new sign with the goal of minimizing the impact on the views from the rooftops.
“I have not spoken to any rooftop owners lately with regard to that. You know, we’ll take that issue as it comes,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said both the left and right field walls would be moved back to minimize the impact of the renovations on rooftop views, permanently replacing a lane of traffic on Waveland and Sheffield.
In addition, the plan would extend beer sales to 10:30 p.m. or the end of the 7th inning (whichever is earlier), add 30 safety personnel to area after games and create 1,000 free remote parking spaces with shuttle.
The team would also be allowed to host up to 40 night games a year, up from the current limit of 30
Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the plan, saying it’s a win-win for the city and the Cubs.
“The Ricketts family and the ownership can do the investments they need to do, but it’s also a win for Wrigleyville, in that neighborhood, because we’re finally going to get a parking plan, a security plan, as well as a traffic plan and investments in the neighborhood that allow both to go forward together and both to get wins,” the mayor said. “And I think it’s a win for the city of Chicago from both the job creation and the economic development, and also from the notion of no taxpayer subsidy needed to make that work. So I wanted to make sure, because it’s in the news, to at least address that subject. But that is also part of this strategy overall, of job creation that’s why we’re here.”
Tunney kept quiet on the agreement on Monday, but Ricketts said he was confident the deal would get final approval in time to begin work after this season ends.
“I would go forward with the assumption that there will be lots of community meetings, lots of discussion, and we will end up with this plan,” Ricketts said.
The deal would require approval from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, since much of the stadium is protected by landmark status. The City Council would also have to sign off on the agreement before work could begin.