Landmarks Commission schedules special meeting next week to consider Wrigley signage

SHARE Landmarks Commission schedules special meeting next week to consider Wrigley signage
SHARE Landmarks Commission schedules special meeting next week to consider Wrigley signage

Under pressure from the Cubs, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday called a special meeting for next week to consider the massive influx of stadium signage needed to renovate Wrigley Field without a public subsidy.

“The process is being rushed. There needs to be a full vetting,” said Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors Association.

“We have concerns about the amount of signage. It’s not reasonable to demand these public meetings when the community process hasn’t been completed.”

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team requested the June 27 special meeting because it needs quick approval from the Landmarks Commission to pave the way for construction to begin as soon as the regular season ends.

“If we can’t, this project could be at risk,” he said.

As for demands by local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and Wrigleyville residents to keep negotiating, he said, “We need a 6,000 sq.ft. video scoreboard in left field and a 1,000 sq. ft. sign in right because that will help us get the resources we need—especially when the Ricketts family is investing $500 million of their own personal money without public support.”

Landmarks Commission member Mary Ann Smith, a former lakefront alderman, said Thursday she’s not certain how she plans to vote on the proposed changes to 99-year-old Wrigley.

In addition to the jumbotron in left and the see-through sign in right, the Cubs want: an LED “ribbon board” along the upper-deck grandstand; a new fan deck in left field with signs; new signs on the right field wall and behind home plate and a two-story Captain Morgan Club with even more signs.

Despite the landmark designation that covers Wrigley’s “historic elements,” the Cubs plan would also give the team “discretion on all signage inside the ballpark not impacting rooftops” and authorization to take out a lane of parking on Waveland and a sidewalk on Sheffield to extend the right- and left-field walls outward to minimize the impact of outfield signs on rooftop views.

The Cubs also want the go-ahead to restore Wrigley’s 1930’s terra cotta roof line and replace concrete slabs and chain-link fences with brick and ornamental iron.

“I love Wrigley Field. I want to make sure it’s handled well. I want to hear about impacts on the community,” Smith said.

“I haven’t had a detailed presentation of what the proposal is. I’ve read many different versions and seen many different cartoons. Cartoons may be the most useful. But, I still don’t know what they’re gonna put in front of us. Until I do, I won’t know how I’m going to vote.”

Smith said she understands why the Cubs pushed for a special meeting.

“They have to be frustrated trying to get what they want. I don’t know whether they’ve signed contracts with construction firms but, generally speaking, the longer you wait, the more a project costs,” she said.

Tunney said he would “love it” if the right-field sign was reduced from 1,000 sq.ft. to 400 sq.ft. But, he’s making no specific demands.

“I’m continuing negotiating on all aspects of the planned development on behalf of my residents and businesses. Less signage everywhere is my goal,” he said.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that the siblings of Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts were growing increasingly concerned the deal may be modified in a way that denies the team the revenue it needs to bankroll the $300 million stadium renovation.

The newspaper reported that, if the Cubs didn’t get key approvals before the City Council’s annual summer recess, Ricketts is likely to invest in “Plan B” locations in the city and suburbs.

Peters says she’s not concerned about efforts by Rosemont, Cicero and, now, DuPage County to lure the Cubs or by veiled threats the team might consider those options.

“The family, unfortunately, has used this as a diversion. It’s nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors,” she said.

Will DeMille, president of the Lake View Citizens Council, said he’s not at all certain what the Landmarks Commission will be voting on next week.

“Is it the attached property or just everything inside [the stadium]? We know what’s in the planned development. But, we also understand they can amend that,” DeMille said.

“We have concerns that a special meeting has been called with little awareness of time and scope. We’re more concerned about the lack of transparency. People need to have ample notice of when meetings are held and what’s being discussed.”

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