Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Ricketts Addresses Framework Deal and Rooftops Respond

Tom Ricketts held a press conference at Wrigley Field on Monday to discuss the agreed upon framework for a deal that would allow the team to restore Wrigley Field. Ricketts addressed most of the points that were released on Sunday night.

The deal that was reportedly agreed upon late Saturday night has not been finalized and has several more steps that must be approved by the neighborhood, the city and the planning commission. The release issued by the Mayor’s Office clearly states that framework for Restoration of Wrigley Field has been approved and the Cubs will begin approval process for Restoration of Friendly Confines to allow approvals by conclusion of the 2013 baseball season.

Alderman Tom Tunney released a statement on Monday afternoon:

There remains a great deal of work to do, especially with regard to community input. While I am committed to the framework released earlier today, there is no doubt that community input is vital regarding several elements that would most affect the quality of life for the neighborhood residents and businesses.

Shortly after Ricketts’ press conference, the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association issued the following statement.

Wrigleyville Rooftops Association Statement

CHICAGO – Reports this morning indicate that a framework has been reached for the Chicago Cubs to submit plans to the City of Chicago for renovating Wrigley Field.

As an organizational partner, we echo the sentiment of all parties involved for our desire that the Cubs play baseball in a modernized Wrigley Field as soon as possible.  The players and fans deserve the modern amenities that numerous other Major League Baseball teams have had for years and we are pleased that process will begin.  The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association will play an active role in the community process to approve the planned development or any changes to the Landmark Ordinance.

“We are pleased the Chicago Cubs will participate in a community process to flesh out these details more in-depth. However, no community process, city ordinance, or agreement without our consent can or should dismiss contractual rights granted to us by the Chicago Cubs in 2004.  Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 20-year contract. We, as well as every interested party in the Lakeview neighborhood, will study the plans submitted to the City of Chicago and play a constructive role in moving forward.”

Beth Murphy spoke with the Tribune and said the contract the rooftop club owners have with the team will be enforced if the views are blocked. Murphy explained that they have not seen the renovation plans and “wouldn’t say whether the group would take the team to court if any of their views were blocked in the proposed renovation plan.”

Murphy would not comment other than to say it does not seem possible that a jumbotron as big as the one the Cubs are asking for (6,000 square feet) would not block any of the rooftop clubs’ views. The framework that was agreed upon calls for up to a 5,000 square foot jumbotron and the Cubs are still pushing for a 6,000 square foot jumbotron. Murphy said the rooftops are not trying to keep the Cubs from starting the project but they believe the team can begin without having the jumbotron issue resolved.

The rooftops are willing to work with the Cubs but from the sound of it, they are not going to back down.

As for the really awkward contract, as Tom Ricketts called it, that was signed with the Tribune Company in 2004.

Murphy said, “It’s funny, because he should ask (Cubs business president) Crane Kenney and he should ask (Cubs executive vice-president/community affairs) Mike Lufrano what is awkward about the contract because they negotiated with (the rooftop owners). I sat in the same room with them when we were doing the contract. I think they are well aware of what the intent of the contract was and what’s in the contract, so I don’t really understand the ‘awkward’ comment.”

Murphy also addressed the argument that the ballpark has been around longer than the neighbors.

“I think you can say the same thing about Tom Ricketts. He should’ve been aware of the neighborhood when he bought the Cubs. But my rooftop building was built in 1895 and I’ve been here since 1978, so I don’t know how you factor those, how you figure out who has been here the longest. And the Cubs are a corporation, so I don’t know if that means they’ve been here the longest as a corporation. If depends on how you define corporation.”

When asked on Monday about the rooftop owners taking the team to court, Ricketts said “he has given no thought to what will happen if the rooftops seek a court injunction blocking construction that the Cubs hope to begin this fall.”

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  • 07GreyDigger

    She does have a good point about Crane Kenney. Why does that guy still have a job? My theory is Tom wanted guys in the office that knew how a baseball team worked and didn’t want a CEO that came in cold. Thoughts anyone?

    • jw

      No one but Ricketts knows for sure but I think he was forced on Ricketts in the deal to protect the remaining interests of the Tribune..if I am not mistaken they still have a small piece.

  • Brp921

    Sounds to me like the rooftop owners are still going to be a problem and Tunney is still setting himself up for a piece of the action. Chicago is such a wonderful city it’s to bad it’s run by a bunch of crooks. I say get out now while the gettings good. The city is going to wait till Ricketts has to much money invested in the project to back out and then they’ll move in for the kill. Start negotiations with the suburbs.

    • Denver Mike

      Anyone who thinks the politicians in Rosemont, Arlington, or most other Chicago suburbs are any less crooked than those in the city is kidding themselves. Once the Cubs made the move and couldn’t turn back, the suburbs would start putting their hands out just the same.

      • Brp921

        Not if they get everything in black and white. The problem now is the landmark status of Wrigley and Sam Zell not worrying about what kind of deals were made. Do you think the Ricketts would have signed off on a deal that would hinder their progress for twenty years. They would be in a position to negotiate with a new location as opposed to having their hands tied in Chicago.

    • Henry

      I agree. This is the time to make the move. It is evident Ricketts would have communities around Chicago falling all over themselves to have the Cubs. Negotiate the best deal. Build a great new ballpark. Never be held hostage by the Chicago politicians or Rooftop owners ever again!

  • Rational Lofic

    I hope the Cubs build a 9,000 sqft scoreboard.

    • Jason Penrod

      Build a wrap-around scoreboard, from LF to RF… and 100 feet tall!
      But seriously, there are ways to get out of contracts. I’m sure Ricketts could take them to court and argue that he is a new owner, and he wasn’t responsible for the deal, and that it’s hindering business growth. Pay a court-ordered buy out fee and be done with it.