Emanuel delivers for Cubs to get Wrigley renovation moving

SHARE Emanuel delivers for Cubs to get Wrigley renovation moving
SHARE Emanuel delivers for Cubs to get Wrigley renovation moving

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday tied up loose ends preventing the Cubs from starting construction on their $500 million plan to renovate 99-year-old Wrigley Field and develop the land around it.

At a City Council meeting, Emanuel honored his promise to introduce four ordinances that Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has demanded.

They would:

BULLIT Reduce the number of night-games-per-season from 46 to 43, but allow the Cubs to play up to three additional night games on Friday and Saturday nights if Major League Baseball chooses the Cubs for a weekend broadcast.

BULLIT Permanently cancel plans for a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street roundly opposed by Wrigleyville residents and their local alderman and shift the entrance of a boutique hotel the Cubs are planning to build from Patterson Ave. to Clark Street.

BULLIT Allow the stadium’s right- and left-field walls to be extended outward by ten feet on Waveland and 15 feet on Sheffield, taking out a lane of traffic on both streets.

As the Chicago Sun-Times has reported, the Cubs will not be required to compensate Chicago taxpayers — beyond the $4.75 million in commitments they’ve made to Wrigleyville residents — for the use of public streets and sidewalks.

BULLIT Waive the requirement for City Council approval of individual signs inside and outside the ballpark already included in a “sign matrix” approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and the Commission on Historical Landmarks.

Once the City Council approves those changes, Emanuel is hoping the Cubs will finally begin construction on the long-awaited project expected to create 2,100 jobs and generate $19 million-a-year in local tax revenue.

“We’re working our way towards that. We’re working to do our part to implement the framework we all agreed to,” said a top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the Ricketts family is grateful to the mayor for honoring his many commitments to the team.

“We’re continuing to strike compromises and make progress for the benefit of this entire project. We hope these ordinances will eventually pass and keep us on track to get this project started soon. It’s moving in that direction,” Green said.

In late July, the City Council finally approved the Cubs’ $500 million plan, bankrolled by a video scoreboard in left-field, a see-through sign in right and an infusion of new signage outside the ballpark.

Ricketts has maintained ever since that construction will not begin until rooftop club owners who share 17 percent of their revenues with the team drop their threat of a lawsuit aimed at preventing the team from bankrolling the project with two massive outfield signs that could block their views.

On Wednesday, Green hedged just a bit when asked if that demand still holds.

“That’s been the family’s position. Whether that changes, it’s too early to tell,” he said.

“Obviously, there are still issues to work out with the rooftops. As we finish up this process with the city, we also hope we can make some significant progress with our rooftop partners. We’re continuing to talk.”

Last month, rooftop club owners turned up the heat on the Cubs to let the jackhammers begin.

“There is nothing stopping owners of one of the most valuable teams in baseball from fixing the dugouts, the bathrooms or the multitude of improvements that are long overdue,” said their spokesman Ryan McLaughlin.

“Those aspects of renovation have nothing to do with the issue between the Cubs and rooftops. For a team that set deadlines, their silence has been deafening.”

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