Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Ald. Tunney Wants Cubs to Start Project

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Alderman Tom Tunney “ridiculed the Cubs as a needy group” last Wednesday and questioned as to why the team had not obtained permits to begin the restoration project this off-season.

When the Cubs announced the plans to Restore Wrigley Field, the first of five phases was supposed to begin the day after the final home game of the season. The Cubs played their last game of the year on September 25.

The Cubs have not applied for or acquired the permits necessary to begin construction on the clubhouse, which was supposed to be ready for Opening Day of the 2014 season. The team and the Ricketts family has stated repeatedly the project would not begin until they received the proper assurances from the rooftop club owners that they would not pursue legal action to protect their views of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs have been cleared by the city to install the large video board in left field, the see-through sign in right field and to move the foot print of the park in order to accommodate the additions to the 100-year old facility.

The Ricketts family has said stood by the fact that they are unable to begin the restoration project if they are not able to add revenues necessary to pay for the much-needed upgrades to the beloved, historic ballpark.

Alderman Tunney told the Sun-Times, “The world changed. We rolled out the red carpet for them. Where’s the permits? It’s time for them to build, like they said they would post-season. I’d expect permits to be there. I would have hoped, at this point, that they would be doing permits.”

The alderman did not change his view when he was reminded that the Cubs needed the rooftop club owners to give them a guarantee they would not sue to protect their views. Tunney called the Cubs a “needy group” and said, “That wasn’t a part of the agreement. They’ve got a private arrangement with the rooftops. I don’t have any control over that. They should start construction.”

As for what the team will do to improve Wrigley Field this winter, right now “the team is prepared to proceed with electrical and structural during the off-season.”

The report in the Sun-Times pointed out, the team has been consistent about their unwillingness to begin construction on Wrigley until the issues with the rooftops are worked out. Ald. Tunney is not the only interested party pushing for the Cubs to begin the project. The rooftop club owners released a statement last week on the matter.

Rooftop club owners’ statement from the Sun-Times, “There is nothing stopping the owners of one of the most valuable teams in baseball from fixing the dugouts, the bathrooms or the multitude of improvements that are long overdue. Those aspects of renovation have nothing to do with the issue between the Cubs and rooftops. For a team that set deadlines, their silence has been deafening.”

The Cubs are still not happy with the unprecedented night game ordinance that gives the city control over when rain-out games are rescheduled. The Cubs are also concerned about the limitations of the ordinance that could force the team to either violate MLB rules or the city ordinance “if the team is chosen to play additional games on national television during a winning season.”

Alderman Tunney said the Cubs “have the right to reopen this thing” but “it’s going to be a struggle for my community.”

Cubs Will Not Be Required to Pay Additional Compensation to the City

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs “will not be required to compensate Chicago taxpayers, beyond the $4.75 million in commitments they’ve made to Wrigleyville residents, for the use of public streets and sidewalks needed to expand 99-year old Wrigley Field.”

The Cubs’ plan, as reported above, included moving the footprint of the ballpark back 10-12 feet to accommodate the new signage. By moving the footprint, the sidewalk on Sheffield and one lane of traffic on Waveland would no longer exist.

The city was expected to charge the Cubs for taking additional land for the project, the same way the team had to pay $900,000 to the city when the bleacher expansion project was done in 2006. The Mayor’s office said in the spring the land would be appraised “to determine the appropriate level of compensation.” City Hall indicated ten days ago “there will be no appraisal, because no additional compensation will be required.”

Mayor Emanuel Expects Construction on Wrigley to Begin in November

During the upcoming City Council meeting on October 16, Mayor Emanuel is expected to introduce a “legislative fix to remedy the Cubs’ complaints about the ordinance that gave the team the green light to play up to 46 night games per season.”

The Cubs, as reported, are not happy with the night game ordinance, and Mayor Emanuel’s “fix” would remove wording in the ordinance that gave the city control over rescheduling rained out games and when the team can play on national television.

The Mayor is also planning “to introduce an ordinance authorizing the closing of Sheffield for street fairs during weekend home games between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”

Mayor Emanuel is expecting the Cubs to begin construction in November on the $500 million project once all of the changes are in place.

The Sun-Times reported, “The mayor is meeting his commitments and expects the Cubs to do the same. But, we are also encouraging them and the rooftops to work out their differences.”

Cubs Hire Allen Hermeling to Sell Sponsorship Deals  

The Cubs hired Allen Hermeling last month as senior director, Corporate Partnerships. Hermeling will report to Colin Faulkner, the team’s vice president of Sales and Partnerships. Hermeling is “responsible to generating new partnership opportunities while managing and maintaining existing partner relationships for the organization” according to the press release.

Hermeling’s main job responsibility will be leading a “growing team of associates in account management, new business, sales planning and activation.” Hermeling’s team, as part of the Wrigley Field Restoration project, “will be responsible for the sale and management of new and reinvented sponsored assets at the ballpark.”

Allen Hermeling and his team will work in conjunction with Wally Hayward, the Cubs’ former chief sales and marketing executive.

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