Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs and Northwestern to Announce New Partnership

According to multiple reports on Saturday, the Cubs and Northwestern University will announce “a broad partnership” in a news conference at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. The partnership with Northwestern appears to be another step by the Cubs to add revenue to help pay for the $300 million project to restore Wrigley Field.

According to the Tribune, the Wildcats will not play football at Wrigley in 2013 but other NU teams (baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse) might play at Wrigley this year. Wrigley Field could host a Northwestern game in 2014 depending on the renovations being made to the old ballpark.

While the news on the restoration project was a little subdued this past week, it did make headlines.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the rooftop owners are looking for their current contract to be extended for allowing the Cubs to put digital signs on their buildings. The current contract between the team and rooftops owners was signed in 2004 and would expire at the end of 2023. The rooftop owners would like the contract extended for nine years in order to protect them from the Cubs blocking their views and putting them out of business.

The dispute between the Cubs and the rooftop owners are threatening to hold up the deal the team is negotiating with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Wally Hayward officially stepped down as the Cubs Vice President of Market and Sales on Thursday and it was announced that the Ricketts family was backing his new company, W Partners. Hayward’s first client is the Cubs and he will continue to oversee details of the Wrigley Field restoration project, the Wrigleyville hotel and development and the Cubs new facility in Mesa. Hayward’s company will also be responsible for selling the naming rights for the Cubs new Spring Training park, currently called Riverview Park.

As Joe Favorito pointed out, it is all about teams controlling the assets and Tom Ricketts’ partnership with Wally Hayward is nothing new in major markets.

News also surfaced Friday that the owners of Skybox on Sheffield were sued by their lender after their businesses defaulted on four loans totaling $7.35 million. The owners of Skybox on Sheffield, R. Marc Hamid and Jeffrey Goby, also own Just Great Tickets, a Chicago-area ticket broker. The Tribune reported their rooftop business “has about $6 million outstanding on three loans and the largest loan went into default in September.” The ticket company guaranteed the loans.

Jim Coffman of Crain’s Chicago Business questioned if the rooftop charm is long gone in Wrigleyville on Friday.

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  • Dorasaga

    I’m rarely on the side of the club owners, being greedy animals as they mostly are. But these rooftop owners got to be joking. Their bargain power comes from 1. a lawful paper, a contract signed under the order of the Tribune Co. (and President Craney); 2. some city law that forbade Wrigley Field be truly renovated due to the site’s historical status… I don’t even know if the law limited the height of the build, such as putting up a sign or a building that’ll block the rooftops. If the Ricketts found a way to break away from that contract or the history-law, then the rooftop will need to go; at least that’s what I thought.