While changes to outfield walls and some exterior elements were approved, the massive signs that have been a thorn in the side of business owners won't be considered until next month. Christian Farr reports on July 27, 2013 at 6 p.m.
In an advisory vote, the seven members of the Chicago Landmarks Commission on Thursday afternoon unanimously approved portions of a roughly $500 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field, though they did not consider two large signs at left and right field that have been a thorn in the side of nearby business owners.
Elements considered and approved by the commission include pushing back outfield walls on Sheffield and Waveland avenues and design changes to the Captain Morgan Club on the southeast side of the park.
A commission staffer said a proposed 6,000 square foot Jumbotron in left field and a smaller advertising sign in right field would be considered at the July meeting.
On the eve of the vote, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley Field, said he couldn't back the plan unless certain last-minute demands were met. They included reducing the sizes of the Jumbotron and the advertisement in right field.
"We have a statement that we think the signs are too big and they don't fit in the character of the historic ballpark, so as I've said for months, we're still negotiating the size, the height, and the width, and how it impacts the community," Tunney said after Thursday's meeting.
Owners of rooftop businesses adjacent to the park have fought against plans for large signage that would potentially block their views. They're contractually obligated to share 17 percent of their gross revenue with the Cubs through the 2024 season and earlier this spring threatened to sue if that agreement was broken.
The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans. With that out in the new agreement, the owners are seeking new revenue streams, including the large scoreboard and sign.
The Cubs maintain the proposed changes to the park are necessary to keep the organization financially viable.
"We stated on the record what we needed, which was a 6,000 square foot video board and a 1,000 square foot sign in right field. We'll continue to talk with the alderman and the city of Chicago. There's 1,000 different elements. These two are critical to this particular project and we need these to move forward," said Julian Green, the Cubs' Vice President of communications and community affairs.
Details of the proposal, a hard-fought agreement between the city and the team, were announced in mid-April.