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The Cubs, Chicago reach an agreement on Wrigley renovations

Apr 15, 2013, 8:56 AM EDT

Wrigley Field

It comes about six days after they had first hoped, but the Cubs and the city of Chicago have finally reached an agreement for half a billion dollars worth of Wrigley Field renovations:

The historic home of the Chicago Cubs will get a $500 million facelift, including its first electronic outfield video board, as part of a hard-fought agreement announced Sunday night between the City of Chicago and the ball team.

Wrigley Field also will host an expanded number of night games under the announced pact, as part of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ plans to renovate the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues, boost business and make baseball’s most infamous losers competitive again.

The video board will be contentious, as it’s not at all clear that the rooftop owners beyond left field — from whom the Cubs take a cut of all receipts — have signed off. They had threatened to sue.  Beyond that, there will now be up to 40 night games (up from 30) and as many as four concerts a year. To ease neighborhood concerns there will be an additional 1,000 parking spots in a remote lot which will be free and come with shuttle service.

The announcement says no tax dollars will be used for the renovations. That’s laudable if it holds true, but there have many many allegedly “private” financings of ballpark construction or renovations which ended up getting public money or breaks of some kind.  Call me when the work is done if you want to tell me this doesn’t impact taxpayers.

That caveat aside, forward, ho.

  1. jm91rs - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    What a joke that the owners of property outside of Wrigley could sue if their view of the Cubs’ product is blocked. But overall, I’m glad to hear they’re getting an upgrade. $500 million should be able to do a lot. Maybe they can get nicer clubhouses as well.

    • paperlions - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      It isn’t a joke because they have an agreement with the Cubs in which the Cubs get a cut of their profits in exchange for the Cubs agreeing not to obstruct views from the rooftop….as such, the Cubs could be in breach of their contract, and be sued for it.

      • jm91rs - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        Well then it’s a joke that the Cubs signed an agreement limiting their ability to put up a video board and advertise.

        Chicago as a city feels very entitled when it comes to the Cubs, the city gets a lot more money from these rooftop owners than the Cubs do. My understanding is that they’ve been fighting this on behalf of the rooftop owners for a long time.

      • wmg8383 - Apr 15, 2013 at 11:34 AM

        Does anyone know how many rooftop seats we’re talking about here? Can’t be more than a couple hundred per game, right? Just curious, and have no idea.

      • ptfu - Apr 15, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        It wasn’t a joke when the Cubs would routinely sell out their games. Back then, the agreement was a way for the Cubs to realize some additional ticket revenue, beyond what they got from selling out Wrigley. The rooftop owners got “guaranteed” access to a then-popular product. Everybody won.

        Now that Wrigley has plenty of seats available, the Cubs are trying to boost their revenues by improving the in-park experience. The team has much less incentive to work with the rooftop owners now.

  2. Alex K - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    There is plenty of room in left where a scoreboard won’t block much of anything. Most of the Rooftop Clubs are down right field, anyway.

  3. berseliusx - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    I find it tougher to grumble about indirect taxpayer funding in Wrigley’s case, seeing as for years it was the city screwing the team instead of the other way around. No other team has to deal with the kind of city restrictions that the Cubs have had for decades.

    • fatediesel - Apr 15, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      I think the Cubs should have accepted Rosemont’s free land offer and just left Chicago and built a new stadium. Wrigley may be historic but it is in crappy condition and no matter how much they spend it’s not going to be able to compete with a newer stadium. In addition if they had taken Rosement’s offer they wouldn’t have to deal with the rooftop owners, night game restrictions, and just the politics of Chicago in general.

      • berseliusx - Apr 15, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        I don’t expect there to be much less corruption in Rosemont as there is in Wrigleyville. The Cubs would also have to deal with the fact that the new stadium would basically be at the end of an O’Hare runway.

      • Alex K - Apr 15, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        And it would be miserable for people who live and/or work in the City to make it out to a weeknight game. Traffic going out on 90 is terrible enough on a day to day basis. Even the side streets are pretty slow at that time.

  4. aceshigh11 - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    At least it won’t be taxpayer funded (or so the article says).

    At least that right-wing d-bag Ricketts isn’t a hypocrite.

    • ditto65 - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Except he held out his hand for public funding for years:
      http://ballparkdigest.com/201203204624/major-league-baseball/features/ricketts-time-to-talk-wrigley-field-public-funding-again

      • aceshigh11 - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Ah, why am I not surprised?

      • cubfan531 - Apr 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        When your fans pay an entertainment tax that went to fund the White Sox’ stadium, and you’re held up to such ridiculous standards for a privately financed ballpark, it’s a fair complaint, if for nothing else than negotiation leverage.

    • cubfan531 - Apr 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      Joe Ricketts – the father of the Ricketts siblings who co-own the team – has nothing to do with the Cubs. The kids tend to stay out of politics, but they seem somewhat left-leaning.

    • tone360 - Apr 15, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      They did back Tea party candidates and their first attempt was to use the states money. So let me get this straight, Your political platform is smaller government and less taxes, yet you’d use my taxes to improve upon your personal financial endeavor? Niiiiiiice. Good to see he got stuck footing most if not the entire bill.

      • cubfan531 - Apr 16, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        Their father did. The siblings that operate the Cubs don’t meddle in politics, as they realize it’s potentially bad for business.

        Hell, what their dad did was bad for business, and he has nothing to do with the Cubs operations.

  5. onbucky96 - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Aww, how sweet. Cubbie fan will now have a major league stadium of their own. Instead of thinking they own Miller Park. Call me when the nets to catch falling concrete at Wrigley come down. Oh, Cub fan btw…Go home F.I.B.!

    • jeffbbf - Apr 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      Dumbass. Why don’t you just be thankful for all of the money Chicago fans bring into Miller Park? You better hope we keep showing up…

  6. paepae805 - Apr 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    After reading the finite details of the agreement, naming rights have been sold to Miller Brewing, it will be known as Miller Park South. The Cubs will always be the armpit of the National League.

  7. rg3zacharm - Apr 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Best thing to happen in Chicago since wrigley was built!

    • jlovenotjlo - Apr 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Going from a strictly sports standpoint, the multiple championships of every major sports team, except the Cubs, of course, take precedence.

      Win something.

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