Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Cubs Receive Property Tax Break, Permission to Move Wrigley Footprint

According to a report from Fran Spielman, the City Council’s Finance Committee authorized a Class L property tax break for Wrigley Field on Tuesday. The property tax break could save the Cubs “$8.5 million over 12 years if and when the landmark stadium is finally renovated.”

The Sun-Times report put Wrigley’s current value at $19.2 million and $32 million with the land underneath the old ballyard.

The City Council is expected to give full approval to the tax break on Wednesday. Wrigley would be taxed at 10 percent of the assessed valuation for the first 10 years, 15 percent the year after and 20 percent for the twelfth year.

The Cubs currently pay $1.49 million in taxes with a 25 percent rate based on the assessed valuation. The tax break would not go into effect until after the restoration project in complete. The project is expected to take five off-seasons to complete. The team was not able to begin the first phase of the project this winter due to ongoing talks with the rooftop club owners.

Cubs Receive Approval to Move Wrigley’s Footprint

The Chicago Landmarks Commission gave the Cubs approval last Thursday to move the exterior brick wall in right field and the party deck back an additional 10 feet from the 15 feet that was approved in July. The commission approved the footprint could be moved back a total of 25 feet toward Sheffield Avenue.

Moving the wall closer to Sheffield came at a cost. The team dropped the proposed pedestrian bridge from their plans and potentially three night games (46 down to 43).

Update on the Discussions with the Rooftop Club Owners

The mock-up of the right field sign the Cubs put up two weeks ago did not settle very well with the rooftop club owners. The rooftops threatened legal action after seeing their views would be blocked as they thought.

Fran Spielman spoke with Mike Lufrano about the talks with the rooftops on Tuesday. Lufrano indicated the Cubs have “had good discussions with some of the rooftop club owners and the team is still talking to others in hopes of averting a protracted lawsuit.” The Cubs are exploring ways to avoid legal action which would likely delay the restoration project even further.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on record that he would like the Cubs to start the project this winter. The Cubs have yet to apply for the proper building permits, much less order materials. Mayor Emanuel introduced four ordinances that would help the Cubs fund the project. The night game ordinance would be modified to give the team more scheduling flexibility. The proposed pedestrian bridge has been removed from the plans and the entrance of the hotel has been shifted. The Cubs would be allowed to move the footprint of the stadium out an additional 15 feet without having to compensate the taxpayers. The fourth ordinance calls for the removal of the City Council having to approve all signs inside and outside Wrigley.

The Cubs are anxious to begin the restoration project. But as Crane Kenney said last Friday, the work on Wrigley Field that will be noticed by the general public will not be noticed until the 2015 season.

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