By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Wrigley Field has been designated a National Historic Landmark, honoring the 106-year-old stadium as an “iconic national treasure.”

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhard announced the designation on Thursday.

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“The historical significance of Wrigley Field is interwoven into our nation’s story and a key part of what has become America’s beloved pastime for over a century,” Bernhardt said in a statement. “It is with great enthusiasm that I designate this iconic national treasure, the site of many legendary events, innovations and traditions in baseball history, as a National Historic Landmark.”

National landmark status means the Ricketts family, who owns the stadium and the Chicago Cubs, now qualify for federal income tax credits to help offset the nearly $1 billion they spent on renovations to Wrigley Field, most notably adding two massive video boards in the outfield, new seats, new player clubhouses, and moving the bullpens from the field to underneath the bleachers.

The Cubs also managed to maintain the stadium’s original facade, and the iconic marquee and manual center field scoreboard, while also adding a new plaza known as Gallagher Way.

Wrigley Field is a special place in the hearts of generations of fans,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “That’s why, from our first day as owners, we committed to preserving Wrigley, which will now take its well-earned place in the lineup of American history and culture as a national treasure.”

Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, just two years younger than Fenway Park in Boston.

The Interior Department noted Wrigley also is the only remaining MLB stadium connected to the Federal Baseball League, a short-lived “third major league” that competed with the National and American Leagues from 1913-15.

Other historic events in Wrigley Field history include hosting the first tryouts for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II, serving as the home field for the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1970, starting the tradition of allowing fans to keep balls hit into the stands as mementos, being the first ballpark with refreshment stands, and the first ballpark with live organ music during games.

The stadium was already designated a Chicago Landmark in 2004.

Soldier Field also was once a National Historic Landmark, but lost that status in 2006, after undergoing a major renovation in 2002, when a much-maligned seating bowl was added to the stadium, looming over the stadium’s iconic colonnade. Critics compared the rebuilt Soldier Field to a flying saucer set inside a neoclassic stadium.

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