Cubs owner says in no uncertain terms that losing control of their ability to erect signs in the outfield is a dealbreaker.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts on Wednesday threatened to move the Chicago team if the city doesn't approve a $500 million proposal to upgrade Wrigley Field and the surrounding area.
"I'm not sure how anyone's going to stop any signs in the outfield, but if it comes to the point that we don't have the ability to do what we need to do in our outfield, then we're going to have to consider moving," Ricketts said during an event at the City Club of Chicago. "It's as simple as that."
Ricketts made the comment while answering a question after his presentation of the proposal, which includes a 6,000-square-foot video board in left field.
"All signs will fit within Wrigley Field's character," Rickets said at the Wednesday breakfast, noting the plan is a restoration, not a renovation, of the North Side ballpark. Ricketts said the proposal will restore the park's old-school character and usher in some modern money-making additions.
The latest version includes 42,000 square feet of advertising inside and outside the park. Most noticeable is the three-panel video board with advertising at the top, but there's also an LED board in left field and center field.
At a Wednesday news conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he's not worried about the possibility of the Cubs leaving the city, because the framework exists for stadium deal that includes a Jumbotron and other amenities the Ricketts family is seeking.
Other proposed additions include recreating the terra-cotta canopies and wrought iron fencing found at Wrigley in the 1930s. Outside the field, the plan calls for a new neighborhood look with a proposed seven-story hotel at Clark and Addison with advertising space.
There's also a linked walkway with advertising space, and the Captain Morgan Club is set to be replaced with a two-story structure and a deck.
Some details still need to be worked out, though. The city has agreed to more night games and the weekend closing of Sheffield Avenue for game-day street fairs, but the size of the new signage isn't set. It's also still unclear how it will affect the views from rooftop businesses outside the park.
The proposal in total calls for a $300 million ballpark renovation and $200 million neighborhood revitalization plan. The Cubs plan to submit the plan to the city this week and hope to receive approval by the end of this season.
In March the mayor of Rosemont said he would welcome the Cubs with open arms, even pointing to an open 25-acre which he would give to the Cubs free of charge.
"If that doesn’t work out in the city, this is an option," Mayor Brad Stephens said. "We’d like them to come out, take a look at it, and see if it works."