Cubs Moving Forward with Wrigley Field Restoration Plans

The Chicago Cubs are moving forward with the team’s plans to restore and renovate Wrigley Field. In a video message from Tom Ricketts released early Thursday morning, the Cubs’ chairman said, “It’s time to move forward.”

The team and the rooftop club owners have not reached an agreement to settle their contractual disputes. The rooftop club owners are expected to take the appropriate action to stop the team from pushing forward with a new, altered plan to restore and renovate Wrigley Field.

Under the Cubs new plan to restore Wrigley Field, there will be seven outfield signs, that includes a second video board, 300 new seats, new outfield lights and both the home and visiting bullpen mounds moved to underneath the expanded bleachers. The video board in left field would be downsized from 5700 square feet to 3990 square feet and the second video board would be 2400 square feet.

Tom Ricketts released a six-minute video explaining the team’s position and the importance of the Cubs moving forward with the restoration and renovation of Wrigley Field.

“We need to press ahead with the expansion. We cannot delay any longer. The time to build a winner is now. Our plan will provide more revenue for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to invest in building a championship ballclub. Our plan will provide more revenue for our business operation to expand and preserve the greatest ballpark in baseball. I know this plan is in the best interest of our fans and our players. We hoped to avoid heading to the court house. But the most important thing is we want to exercise our right to preserve and expand the ballpark we all know and love.”

Link to Tom Ricketts Video

Statement from Tom Ricketts:

As you know, we have been working tirelessly to win a World Series, preserve Wrigley Field and invest in our community. This is why our Wrigley Field restoration and expansion plan is so important.

We have to put the team and the fans first. So today we are asking the City of Chicago to approve a revised expansion plan that includes our original proposal to add several signs and a revised seating configuration in the outfield. If approved, we are prepared to get construction started.

The bleacher expansion, including the outfield signs, are an integral part of the overall Planned Development and will be a tremendous source of revenue to help fund other parts of the restoration. The revised expansion plan also includes additional seating and open spaces in the Budweiser Bleachers, new group terraces in right and left field, enclosed hospitality areas and new outfield lighting. The overall capacity of the ballpark will not increase from the number of fans we can accommodate today.

Our expansion plan will provide the revenue needed to preserve the greatest ballpark in baseball and invest in building a championship ballclub. We welcome your help in this process.

Nearly 30,000 of you have lent your support to us by signing up at WrigleyField.com. If you haven’t signed our petition, please visit our site to add your voice. We will continue to communicate regularly as the project moves forward.

To save Wrigley Field and give our players the advantages they need to compete, we must move forward with our master plan for Wrigley Field. We appreciate your support.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs will present the team’s new proposal to the Landmarks Commission on June 5. The new proposal includes:

  • A second video scoreboard in right field, in addition to the approved jumbo screen in left field. The board in left field will be reduced to 3,990 square feet
  • Four additional LED signs throughout the outfield, each LED sign would be up to 650 square feet
  • 300 additional seats in the Budweiser Bleachers and 300 standing room positions to reclaim capacity lost to prior renovation plans.
  • New light standards in the outfield that would be placed inside the ballpark, rising 92 feet, “so that fly balls will be lit from both the front and back; the intent is to reduce notorious shadows that have made fly balls an adventure for outfielders.”
  • A 30,000-square-foot clubhouse beneath the new outdoor plaza, the original plan for the renovated clubhouse called for a 19,000-square-foot space
  • Relocating both home and visiting bullpens from the foul lines to a protected area under the expanded bleachers.

The Cubs and the Ricketts family are expected to release the new renderings with the proposed changes on June 5, the same day as the meeting with Landmarks Commission.

Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the rooftop club owners, released the following statement:

“The Ricketts family’s decision to unilaterally end negotiations with their contractual partners is another refusal to accept any of the proposed win-win solutions that could have funded the modernization of Wrigley Field and enhance the team’s competitiveness. In fact, it appears their zeal to block rooftop owners who pay them millions of dollars a year in royalties knows no bounds. Unfortunately, this decision by the Ricketts family will now result in this matter being resolved in a court of law.”

Ald. Tom Tunney told the Sun-Times that the Cubs and the rooftops have “to work out some kind of arrangement for the duration of their contract.” Ald. Tunney opposes “the additional ask” and the alderman pointed out, “I’ve been opposed to this additional signage from the beginning. It’s a violation of their agreement with the rooftops. I can’t postulate what their motives are. They want to have as little regulation as possible. I don’t agree with that. Government is there for a reason. We’ve been very generous. We have approved a lot of things and a lot of signs as part of the planned development. I believe signage is a critical part of the money needed for the renovation. They have a right to ask for as much as they can get. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna get approved or that it will solve the potential litigation with rooftop partners.”

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  • Zonk

    Ahh, politics. Tunney gets alot of support from the rooftop business owners, and other small business owners around Wrigley. That’s his constituency.

    It will be tough for this to get done over Tunney’s objections. I can see Rickett’s point, if we’re going to get sued, let’s make enough money in the meantime to pay the legal fees.

  • Denver Mike

    I’m glad we screwed around for two years trying to reach an agreement with the rooftop owners. What an enormous waste of time the entire charade is. When this goes to court it is going to be held up another two years minimum I’m sure.

    • GaryLeeT

      The rooftop owners will go judge shopping to find one that will slap an injunction on the project. Maybe that will be the final straw to help Ricketts make the move out of town. The land alone where Wrigley sits has to be worth a pretty penny, and would make a nice down payment on Wrigley West.

      • Denver Mike

        That’s an interesting point regarding the value of the land. I wonder though, what affect the landmark status would have on that value. If it can’t be torn down, would Ricketts have to find some insanely rich Wrigley fan that wants to buy it to show off to their friends at cocktail parties? The idea of Ricketts renting it out to the Schaumburg Flyers or other independent team would be pretty comical.

        I’m not really in favor of moving the team to Schaumburg or Rosemont. But I heard some goofball call in to ESPN1000 yesterday suggesting the Cubs build an “artifical peninsula” on lake Michigan and build a stadium on that. While that is borderline insane, it made me think it would be sweet to sell the stadium/land and build a new park on existing land on the lakefront somewhere. How about trading the City of Chicago Wrigley in exchange for North Ave Beach? That place has gotten pretty dumpy, and there isn’t much to tear down beforehand!

  • The Dude Abides

    Who is Rickett getting his advice from? Two years in and he is making another clumsy move that stands no chance to be approved without a lengthy battle. Does anyone know if they have a lobbyist downtown speaking on their behalf? Obviously with their connections they should have this under control by now but it sounds like their strategy is to bark louder.

    • DWalker

      I thnk this was inevitable. the city wants it (aside fom Tunney who is bought and paid for by the rooftops), and I would not be surprised if Rahm told Ricketts to get moving. No deal was ever probably ever possible from the rooftops, it sounds like one or two owners absolutly had no plans to negotiate in seriousness and the rest were only looking for ways to extend the deal. Yes, it will be tied up in court for a few years; again, i think that was always going to happen. my only fault is it took this long to tell the rooftops to pound sand.

  • John G

    I hope that Tom Ricketts is playing chess while Tunney and the rooftop owners are playing checkers. If TR is smart, he has this whole thing greased already with Rahm and whoever is really in charge. If he’s just shooting from the hip with this “Bring it on” approach, he’s going to lose. But if he’s already got the promises from the backroom, it’s the best approach. It’s about time someone said “Screw You” to the rooftop contingent. Let’s face it, they are a small minority in the court of public opinion. It’s votes (and money) that count with all politicians. So let Tunney chase his own personal agenda, while all the rest of the politicians (and judges) get on board with the majority.

  • Roll

    Not to nit pick the sales video that Ricketts just posted or the contract they signed with the rooftop owners without a viable escape clause, moving forward with the improvements is the next logical step for the Cubs. Granted this should have been done at least 6 months ago and in reality should have been done 4 years ago. And yes the rooftop owners will try and protect their business interests and try and stop the process in any way legally possible and will succeed a least on a temporary basis. I would love to be a fly on the wall during the negotiations with the rooftop owners because it is easy to figure out what the rooftop attendance would be over the remainder of the contract and the real estate value impact would be after the improvements and or when the contract with the Cubs will end, so who is being unreasonable. Except for the initial $850 million purchase of he Cubs, Ricketts has a 5 year pattern of not spending much money (relatively speaking for a 1.2 billion dollar company) or are the rooftop inflating the value of their business and real estate, we may never know for sure.

  • K_Gripp

    Its about time! This move should have been made as soon as the Cubs legal team was confident that the clause in the contract allowed them to add signing during renovation. I hand it to Mr. Ricketts for negotiating in good faith but at the end of the day the rooftops were unwilling to compromise. They need to understand that they have a parasitic business model that sells somebody’s product. Inherently hat means there is a risk that you won’t always have access to sell the product that you do not own.

    When this hits the courts remember that there is only one side that is a billionaire with a marketable product.

    My guess is that the Cubs A) defeat the rooftops in court. B) reach a settlement where the rooftop owners are paid out the remainder of the contract and either way within a decade the rooftops are all owned by the Ricketts and become an extension of Wrigley.

    • John_CC

      I think you are correct.

  • John_CC

    I am not a Ricketts apologist or even much of a supporter at this point, but I think the video – released on MLB.com no less – is a great PR move. He has basically just been endorsed by Major League Baseball, all the content on their website is heavily edited. So aside from having the mayor of Chicago’s approval, support and encouragement to get going he now has the public support of MLB.

    Sorry Ald. Tunney, but your client constituents are screwed. They keep up with the same old lame sound bite responses … “unilaterally cut off negotiations” – the negotiations ended quite some time ago as the Rooftops would not find a compromise, “win-win” solutions, blah blah blah. It doesn’t hold up at all to the 6 minutes of Ricketts speaking calmly and caringly about Wrigley, fans, team, and economic development. Politically – and that is what all of this is – Ricketts just got a big “bump” I would say.

    Finally, this Tunney comment says a lot: Cubs and the rooftops have “to work out some kind of arrangement for the duration of their contract.”

    After a year or more of lawyers and fees, dwindling attendance due to the bad team and poor PR, the rooftops are going to be hurting both financially and in the public’s eye. A deal will be struck and this will be settled “out of court.”

    • calicub

      Without knowing the actual and total terms of the contract itself, its hard to accurately comment on this situation.

      That being said, the Cubs are a billion dollar business and certainly have scores of the top legal minds in the industry at their backs, advising and helping. There is no way this is Ricketts flying by the seed of his pants or shooting from the hip.

      This has been a calculated move, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs counter-sue the rooftops for violating the spirit of the contract (not allowing them to rebuild if there is in fact a clause allowing this) and enjoin them from selling any more rooftop tickets for the duration of the lawsuit, if it in fact happens.

      • John_CC

        I agree 100%. They haven’t been waiting for 2+ years because they were pacing around wringing their hands not having any idea what to do (at least not solely, though I’m sure they did some of that).

        The thought that Tom Ricketts is “shooting from his hip” is pretty comical. Does Tom look like the kind of guy who could even do it if he wanted to? And pull it off? No, the Cubs are a close to a billion dollar corporation and for better and worse, in today’s world corporations don’t lose to the “little” people.

  • calicub

    From their statement, I think its mighty clear the Rooftop owners never
    truly tried to negotiate in good faith with the Cubs. They see
    themselves as this noble group, supporting the Cubs with 17% of their
    yearly profits, but all they are interested in is forcing the Cubs to
    submit to another burdensome contract either by extending the rooftop
    contract, or putting signage on their buildings for which they could
    continue to profit.

    • triple

      “all they [rooftops] are interested in is forcing the Cubs to
      submit to another burdensome contract either by extending the rooftop contract, or putting signage on their buildings for which they could continue to profit.”

      TRUTH!!!

  • BigJonLilJon

    I still say just move and build a new state of the art facility. 500-600 million to renovate Wrigley plus whatever money it ends up costing to work a deal out with the roof top leaches???? In the long run…. this would be better for the fans and the players. Could even help with signing of fee agents possibly. And probably could be completed in a shorter time period.

    • Denver Mike

      This is a really short-sighted viewpoint. Wrigley and Wrigleyville are what attracts people to come to Cubs games, it sure isn’t the product on the field. Move the Cubs to the suburbs, and they will draw fans like the White Sox, who have to practically give tickets away to get 8000 people through the door.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        I go to 1 game a year at Wrigley, if that…and usually via work (I don’t personally pay). I have been a fan since probably 1980.

        Wrigley is a dump. take away the ivy and the old-fashioned scoreboard and it is an old decaying dump. Wrigleyville bars are nice, but bars in the suburbs around a new Cubs park would be awesome too.

        I don’t think they will move, and I look forward to seeing a completed rehab, but if they moved to the suburbs, I would take in more games. So would the rest of the suburbs, who tend to have a higher disposable income, and better parking.

        • Denver Mike

          I still don’t think the extra local fans from the suburbs would offset the lost money from tourism. Let’s face it, the tourists are the one’s who pay face value for tickets, drop $200 for a jersey, $10 for a beer, and buy their kids hundreds of dollars worth of Clark merchandise.

          I understand you as a fan would go to more games in the suburbs, but I lived in the Naperville area for 30 years and went to 3-4 games a year at Wrigley. If I still lived there I would likely go to about 1 game a year in the suburbs, and that’s if I got free tickets (through work like you suggested). So for every local fan that would go to more games, I think there is likely another local fan who won’t, and would likely offset one another. That’s why the tourism $$$ is so important, and those dollars are in the city.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            ok. give me any statistics proving tourism-related wrigley ticket purchases.

            this seems to be touted a lot, without any hard numbers provided behind it.

            plus, you are then saying Chicago/Ricketts will rehab Wrigley for the benefit for those that don’t live in the Chicagoland area?

            We might as well just pick a team to root for besides the Cubs then, if the park is not for us local fans.

          • Denver Mike

            Here is one I found by Google search in 30 seconds, followed by some brief skimming through the article:

            http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-03/news/ct-met-sox-fans-20120903_1_cubs-attendance-sox-attendance-sox-fans

            “No. 1, there’s a lot more to do” in Wrigleyville, said Josh Ganal, owner of Grandstand. “It’s not just, ‘Come to the game.'”

            “If I had one day only to go to one place in the country — and I’ve been all over the country — it’s Wrigley Field,” said Sherman, 59, of Jacksonville Beach, Fla. He was making his annual interstate trip for a single Cubs game.

            “The Wrigleyville experience also is a key, said Hayward, adding that nearly 40 percent of attendees at any given Cubs game are from outside Illinois.”

            There are hundreds of articles out there that talk about how the White Sox actually have more local fans that the Cubs, as evidenced by regularly higher local TV ratings, but draw fewer fans due to the lack of the tourist draw created by Wrigleyville and Wrigley Field.

          • Denver Mike

            I missed this quote the first time through as well,

            “The Cubs say they know this and understand how important Wrigley Field, among the top ten tourist destinations in the state on a variety of lists, is to their bottom line. Let’s hope they demonstrate that understanding and avoid compromising the ballpark’s attraction in the name of “enhancing the fans’ experience”:

          • gary3411

            I went to the game yesterday with 5 other people. Those 5 would NEVER EVER go to a Cubs game if it wasn’t in the city. I live in the south side and going to a Cubs game is more popular, even among my Sox fan friends, than going to a Sox game, for one reason, the neighborhood. This is 50+ person sample size and it’s valid.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    only in Chicago…”Alderman”…how quaint. Tunney should go somewhere else and cease any thoughts/comments about the Cubs ever again.

    I won’t applaud Ricketts as he should have been moving faster on this, but glad it is happening now. Ricketts shouldn’t use this as an excuse…since Crane Kenny likes to brag how profitable Cubs are, and we see how high their ticket prices are, to claim we aren’t competitive because of signage is silly.

    Can we rake in even more cash with upgraded facilities and signage? Sure!
    Can we pay for a better product on the field right now without it? Sure!

    I just think billionaires that buy sports teams should do it for the enjoyment and competition of creating a winning team…not purely for maximizing profits.

    But, hey, in 5 years, when Wrigley is upgraded, and the team is competitive, this will all be just a bad dream…like Bobby Ewing in the shower.

    • John_CC

      Wow. You are particularly cranky today.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        meh. probably the viral infection and lack of sleep.

        doesn’t mean it all isn’t true.

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  • http://fortunerestoration.com/ Bob fortune

    Well, I don’t find anything interesting in
    taking two whole years for just an agreement! And another two years in the
    court of law will mess up the entire thing!

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