Mayor Rahm Emanuel reportedly is looking for new ways to renovate Wrigley Field without making fans foot the bill.
For years the Cubs' iconic stadium and its signature ivy were enough to generate considerable cash flow for the club. But in a league with escalating player contracts, the team's relatively new owners have realized it needs more money without laying the burden in taxpayers' laps.
City Hall may be coming to the rescue.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel is proposing a new renovation plan that would relax the landmark status of the field, paving the way for up to $150 million in new sponsorship and advertising.
Among the proposed renovations are more outfield signs, possibly with a Jumbotron in right field, a stadium club with a restaurant and several hundred premium-priced seats, more concerts and football games, and game-day street fairs at Waveland and Sheffield.
In the past one of the chief obstacles to raising big revenue for Wrigley has been the 98-year-old ballpark's historic status. Whether it was the bleacher expansion in 2006 or the Toyota sign in left field, controversy has accompanied new cash.
No time table was released to announce Emanuel's plan, but it's no secret the Ricketts family has proposed changes from the get-go.
Earlier this month, Emanuel said he and the Ricketts family were in the "final stages" of renovation talks. But he reiterated he wouldn't make residents pay.
"We've had good conversations, we're in kind of the final stages of that," Emanuel said April 3. "But always remember I'm here to represent the taxpayers, not subsidize private investors with public dollars."