Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Landmarks Commission Unanimously Approved Revised Wrigley Plan

Wrigley-71014The Cubs received unanimous approval from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on the team’s revised plan to restore, expand and renovate Wrigley Field. The Landmarks Commission approved seven outfield signs, five more than the two that were approved a year ago. The Cubs received approval for a large video board in left field and a see-through sign in right field last summer.

The Cubs revised plan calls for the left field video board to be 3,990 square feet, a reduced size from the 5,700 square-foot board that the team already received approval to install. The additional five signs “cannot be dynamic (no flashing or moving lights) and cannot be billboards.”

The revised plan calls for “additional seats, more lights, bigger clubhouses and a relocation of the bullpens from foul territory to a spot under the bleachers.” The Cubs revealed Thursday the revised plan also includes five new suites, “four in right field and one bigger suite in left field.”

According to the release from the Cubs, after the season the team will immediately start the Budweiser Bleacher expansion and anticipate completing the installation of new seating, group terraces, outfield signs and lighting, including the new left field video board by Opening Day of 2015.

The bleachers will be demolished and rebuilt, but the team will not touch the interior brick walls and ivy which are protected and cannot be altered by the team.

According to the release from the Cubs, the team “will submit permit application and prepare to get construction started in the areas around the ballpark.”

Timeline

Initial Phase will include surface parking lots and two-story parking lot on Eddy Street. The Brown Lot will be demolished later in July. The Brown Lot will be expanded by 100 parking spaces to accommodate gameday parking and guests of the new Sheraton Hotel. After the season, work will begin on the Gold, Red and Purple Lots. The Gold Lot will be the home of the Cubs new broadcast center for home and visiting television networks.

The Cubs will begin excavation of the Purple Lot and lay the foundation for the sub-basements that will house the Levy commissary space and the players’ new clubhouse.

The City will close portions of Waveland and Sheffield Avenues for the relocation of underground water and sewer infrastructure which is necessary for the team to move the footprint of the park (outside walls) onto Waveland and Sheffield.

After the season, the team will immediately start the Budweiser Bleacher expansion and anticipate completing the installation of new seating, group terraces, outfield signs and lighting, including the new left field video board by Opening Day of 2015.

Ongoing Negotiations with the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association

The Cubs “hope to avoid litigation and will continue to talk with the rooftop businesses to determine if there are opportunities to broker a final settlement. If not, we are prepared to defend our right to expand Wrigley Field.”

New startup document 2014Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman for the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, attended Thursday’s meeting. According to the Tribune McLaughlin said, “If these signs were to be erected, the blockage would absolutely violate or 20-year contract, just as they violate the spirit of Wrigley’s long-standing landmark status. Every rooftop owner supports a plan that’s currently on the table resulting in two signs that mitigate blockage, generates revenue to modernize Wrigley Field and takes litigation off the table.”

The lawyer representing the rooftops said seven outfield signs “would put the rooftops out of business.”

The Cubs are scheduled to meet with the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association Friday. The rooftops released a statement and said they are opposed to the seven outfield signs “and will seek a global solution” in hopes of reducing the number of signs in the outfield from seven to two.

Ald. Tom Tunney objected to the Cubs revised plans and “asked that the Landmarks Commission defer their decision during the meeting.” Ald. Tunney said the Cubs plans should have been made available for the neighborhood to review prior to Thursday’s meeting. Ald. Tunney’s request was denied.

Ald. Tunney said “an approval would create a quality of life issue for the neighborhood,” and according to the Tribune, Ald. Tunney said, “The Cubs’ attitude is: This is what we are going to do to, neighborhood. Take it or leave it.” And if the commission approved the plans they would be “giving the Cubs carte blanche to do whatever they want with the signs.”

According to a report from Dan Bernstein, the Cubs “began ordering materials weeks ago” and the team “plans to start work immediately.”

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