The Chicago Cubs have won their battle for extra outfield signs at Wrigley Field, but the rooftop owners are not giving up the fight. NBC 5’s Christian Farr has reaction.
The Chicago Cubs have won their battle for extra outfield signs at Wrigley Field, but the rooftop owners are not giving up the fight.
The city's Commission on Landmarks voted in favor of the team's plan after a 3-hour meeting Thursday in which the team presented its expanded blueprint to renovate the historic baseball stadium.
The plan calls for additional seating, new lighting, four addittional LED signs of up to 650 square feet, and a 2,400-square-foot video board in right field.
The changes add $75 million to the original $500 pricetag, which the Cubs are paying for without taxpaper funds.
Following their presentation, a Cubs official praised the work of Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), but never mentioned Lake View-area Ald. Tom Tunney. Tunney took exception to the omission, saying he's worked on the project for a majority of his career as an alderman and asked that the vote be delayed.
Thursday's approval could embolden the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association to pursue legal action. The owners last week agreed to forgo lawsuits if no more than two signs were erected.
The group issued a statement after the vote saying "the blockage would absolutely violate our 20-year contract, just as they violate the spirit of Wrigley's long-standing landmark status."
Rooftops spokesman Ryan McLaughlin says the group is "optimistic" the Ricketts family will follow Mayor Rahm Emanuel's directive to work out a compromise, and that they look forward to sitting down with the Cubs' brass to engage in "good faith negotiations."
"Every rooftop owner supports a plan that's currently on the table resulting in two signs that mitigate blockage, generates revenue to modernize Wrigley Field and takes litigation off the table," McLaughlin said in the statement.
Emanuel released a statment calling the approval a "step forward for the Cubs and the neighborhood," and added that "discussions with the rooftop owners should - and must - continue so that this plan remains a win-win."
"Not only does it upholds the architectural heritage of the stadium that Chicagoans can enjoy, but will generate thousands of jobs. I fully expect the owners to initiate the restoration of Wrigley Field and to invest in the surrounding Wrigleyville area, including traffic flow, security, and public parks," Emanuel said in the statement.
The same commission nearly a year ago OK'd a proposal that included plans for two large video scoreboards at the Friendly Confines. Nearby rooftop owners threatened to sue, arguing the added signage would block views and hurt their revenue. And after nearly a year of trying to sort it out, Cubs management in May said they'll risk the lawsuits and proceed with a plan that includes seven outfield signs.
"I know this plan is in the best interest of our fans and our players," Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a video posted on the team's website. "We hope to avoid heading to the courthouse. But the most important thing is we want to exercise our right to expand and preserve the ballpark we own and love."
Several of the stadium's features -- the four exterior walls and roofs, the marquee sign at the corner of Clark and Addison streets, the center field scoreboard, the grandstands and bleachers, and the brick wall and ivy surrounding the playing field -- were granted landmark status in 2004.