Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs and the City Reach Agreement on Framework for Deal

According to a report from Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business, the Cubs and the City of Chicago have finalized an agreement on a deal that would allow the Cubs to move forward on its five-year, $500 million project to renovate Wrigley Field and develop property around the stadium.

Ecker pointed out in his report the agreement that was reached is just a framework for a deal and the Cubs still must go through the final approval process with the city. The deal could still look very different.

According to the Tribune, the agreement on the framework was reached over the weekend and “it clears the way for the Cubs to submit formal plans for the ballpark rehab and nearby hotel and office building that ownership contends are needed to raise the money necessary to help turn the long-suffering team into a contender.”

Here is a summary of the details reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, the Tribune and the Sun-Times on Sunday night:

  • The city and Ald. Tunney have agreed to allow the Cubs to build a jumbotron in left field and a sign in right field “in the style of the existing Toyota sign that currently sits in left field.” The Cubs will work with the city on the placement to “minimize impact” on the rooftop clubs. The Cubs will also be allowed to install more signs inside the ballpark, including a LED ribbon board within the seating bowl.
  • The Tribune reported that the proposed size of the jumbotron is up to 5,000 square feet, and the sign in right field would be up to 800 square feet, more than double the size of the Toyota sign.
  • The Cubs will be allowed to have 40 night games per season and will be allowed to add night games “when acquired by Major League Baseball’s national TV contract.” The 40 night games would not include playoff games “or other games that are not counted under the current ordinance.”
  • The agreement also includes four concerts per year at Wrigley with flexibility to add “smaller” events in the off-season.
  • The team will also be allowed to have six 3:05pm start times for Friday afternoon games.
  • The Cubs will be allowed to “use a closed-to-traffic Sheffield Avenue beginning two hours before game times through the end of the second inning for weekend games between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”
  • The City agreed to vacate a parking lane on Waveland Avenue so the Cubs can extend the exterior left field wall. Previous reports indicated the Cubs were looking to change the footprint of the park and move both the left and right field exterior walls back ten feet in order to accommodate additional signage, specifically a jumbotron in left field. The goal is to minimize the lost views for the rooftop clubs.
  • The Cubs will be allowed to move forward with their plans for the triangle property adjacent to Wrigley Field. The building will house the team’s offices and a meeting space “as well as a plaza that will be managed by the team featuring retail shops and a kids zone.”
  • The Cubs will be allowed to build the boutique Sheraton hotel on Clark Street across from Wrigley. The hotel will include 175 rooms, 75 parking spaces, restaurants, retails shops and the 40,000 square foot Chicago Athletic Club. The Cubs have a pedestrian bridge planned that would connect the triangle building with the hotel.
  • The Cubs will be allowed to place advertisements “along the hotel, the triangle property office building and plaza, including four video screens with the plaza on which the team will advertise, broadcast Cubs games and show movies in the plaza for the public.”
  • The Cubs will be allowed to reconstruct the Brown Lot on Eddy Street, with community approval, and will work with the city on developing an ad campaign to “educate fans on alternative ways of getting to the park.” The Cubs will “develop a new parking plan calling for 1,000 free parking spots off site with a shuttle to Wrigley.”
  • The Cubs will also be allowed to “build a two-story Captain Morgan Club on Addison Street” that include a merchandise store and first floor space for the visiting team clubhouse.”

Danny Ecker attempted to reach a spokesman for the rooftop club owners and did not receive a response. Ecker pointed out in his report that “this is only a framework for all these projects.”

More details are expected to be released on Monday at a press conference.

Statement from Tom Ricketts:

“We are excited about moving forward with the approval process. Under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Tunney, we believe the Cubs proposal will help us invest in Wrigley Field and the Lakeview community. We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward.”

Statement from Mayor Emanuel:

“This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors. I want to thank the Ricketts family for their commitment to Chicago and commend all parties involved for making this agreement without the use of any taxpayer money. It will have a long-lasting positive effect on Chicago.”

Statement from Alderman Tunney:

“There are thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses who all contribute to the unique character of our neighborhood. Each of them benefits from the Cubs, and there is no doubt our neighborhood is better and more vibrant with the Cubs at Clark and Addison. I’m proud they’ve recommitted to Wrigley Field.”

The Tribune reported the goal is to have all of the plans approved by last game at Wrigley on September 25 so work can begin immediately.

Both the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business are unsure if the issues between the team and the rooftop club owners are settled.

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