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The National Park Service is not thrilled with the Wrigley Field rehab

Sep 5, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Jason Aldean Press Conference AP

Yet another wrinkle in the ongoing battle to renovate Wrigley Field. This time from the National Park Service. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Park Service, which is responsible for administering the historic-preservation tax credits which are helping to finance the renovation, is not enamored with the amount of advertising signage the Cubs are planning to put up around the ballpark:

In a memo to the Cubs obtained by the Tribune, the agency expressed concern about advertising overkill at Wrigley, which is known for its ivy-covered outfield walls, hand-turned scoreboard and intimate dimensions as opposed to typical corporate billboards at every other baseball stadium.

“It is important that the cumulative impact of new signage in the outfield does not, in itself, create such a defining feature that the historic character of the stadium is altered,” stated the memo, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

I’m not going to cry for the Cubs —  they make money hand-over-fist and Wrigley Field has been a boon for them far more than it has been a burden — but they do have a unique problem in being able to do turn their ballpark into a cash machine like every other team can do.

  1. Kevin S. - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    They’re welcome to modernize however they want… they just lose the historic preservation tax credits if they do. Seems fair to me.

    • mkd - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Yeah I’m surprised they’re even bothering with the tax credits, but sports owners are so obsessed with the idea of not paying for their own stadiums that they probably just signed up without really thinking it through.

    • simon94022 - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Yes, but it works both ways. If the Cubs aren’t able to modernize enough to make it worth their while, they could build a new park elsewhere in Chicago. Then Wrigley would be torn down and nothing at all preserved.

      Come to think of it, though, they won two world championships at West Side Grounds and have been a dud ever since moving into Whales Stadium/Weeghman Park/Wrigley Field, so maybe a move wouldn’t be a bad idea.

      • Paper Lions - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM


        There isn’t space to modernize that much. There isn’t space to put in modern sized clubhouses. There isn’t space to put indoor batting cages. There isn’t space to put modern video rooms.

        Plus there is that whole crumbling concrete problem.

        Anything they do now is just a band aid designed to put off needing a new ball park, hoping that the economy improves and the attitudes toward giving 100s of millions of dollars in tax money to billionaires changes.

      • Paper Lions - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        …and then on the money-making side, there isn’t room for the types of suites or bars that modern parks have, there isn’t room for the types of food options that modern parks have.

  2. El Bravo - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    God, I hate the Trib’s stupid registration crap and their website is terrible. Thanks for summarizing it here since I refuse to deal with their site!

  3. perryt200 - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

  4. historiophiliac - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Damn historians.

    • natstowngreg - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Yeah, kill all the histortians!

      • daveitsgood - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        “History is written by the victors or those with a wikipedia account”
        -Benjamin Disraeli

  5. stlouis1baseball - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    In our industry…we refer to them as the “hysterical society” do to their penchant for trying to fit square pegs into round holes. More often than not…the tax credits offered simply aren’t worth the trouble that comes with said tax credits. Personally, if I am asked to bid on a “hysterical society” project I respectfully decline. Well…90% of the time anyway.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Thus far…(10) people don’t want the truth.

      /Buries head in the sand like the other Ostriches

    • hittfamily - Sep 5, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      You probably aren’t very good at your job. I have found that people who have a hard time dealing with inspectors, usually need extra inspecting done to them.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        You might want to brush up on your reading Spanky. It has nothing to do with inspections. Inspections aren’t even a part of it. The project has specifications. You have to submit your product BEFORE you even start. It has everything to do with the bulls h i t that comes with handouts. Paperwork, hoops to jump through, etc… The money people save with the HISTORICAL SOCIETY “tax credits” typically pale in comparison to the extra monies they have to spend to purchase the specified product (refer to square pegs in round holes comment). Every one of my competitors that I am close with puts an “OSF” line in their hysterical society bids. The OSF stands for ‘Oh S h i t Factor.” That…coupled with material costs and labor costs that generally are double…certainly even someone as ignorant as yourself should be able to grasp the repercussions.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        And yes…Stymie. I am so bad at my job my partner and I just opened our 2nd shop last year.

      • stercuilus65 - Sep 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        A second shopping cart to collect cans? Impressive!

  6. windycity0301 - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    At this point, in my estimate most real fans of the team would be thrilled if they’d leave and build a new park. I just want to see a winner, and that demands revenues to support it. I enjoy sitting in my seat and watching a game there, (the look and feel from a good seat are nice) but that’s about it. The concession area is terrible, there’s no parking, and walking to your seats is like walking through a dungeon.(not to mention the bathrooms!)

    And the city, the neighborhood, and now the National Park Service are throwing up any and all road blocks to turn what’s basically a historic tourist attraction into a real ballpark that can sustain a team. Maybe I’m spoiled in that I was able to live in Seattle for a few years and go to a lot of games at Safeco… talk about a cool ballpark to watch a game! (sightlines, concessions, facilities all first class… too bad the team was horrible, but it was fun to watch games there)

    If the Cubs leave, that neighborhood will be in a bad way in a matter of a few years. And frankly, they will have earned it as their is no appreciation for what the Cubs do for that area. My assumption is that all of the new revenues at a modern ballpark will dwarf those tax credits.

    • windycity0301 - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      “there is no appreciation” not “their” can really use an edit your comment feature!

    • historiophiliac - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      How American of you.

      • Paper Lions - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        Well, it’s pragmatic.

        Things that are old are not good just because of their age or are not useful just because of their age.

        No one is saying to tear the place down, but as a functional big league ballpark, it’s time has clearly passed.

      • hittfamily - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field are gone, and baseball is better off because of it.

      • umrguy42 - Sep 5, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        I mean, it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but let’s face it – you could put up the old scoreboard (or a new hand operated one that looks tolerably like it), and plant ivy on the outfield walls, and put troughs in the men’s rooms of a New Wrigley Field easy enough, right? Throw in some extra bleachers, maybe a couple slightly shorter outfield fences, and there ya go :p

  7. natstowngreg - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    The Cubs want the good public image that comes with playing in an historic ballpark. They don’t necessarily want the responsibility that goes with it.

    The Red Sox renovated their historic ballpark, and it seems to have a lot of signage. Hopefully, the Cubs are learning from that.

    • sportsfan18 - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Uh, Theo knows what the Red Sox did and guess what? He’s in Chicago now…

      But, he does have to convince the Ricketts family…

      • natstowngreg - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        I know. I’m not assuming that the Ricketts family is listening to him–not yet, at least.

  8. Uncle Charlie - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Ricketts : Cut labor hours to avoid ACA :: Take tax subsidies paid by the laborers

  9. tmc602014 - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    I didn’t read the article, just this post here, but I see a bunch of speculative commentary regarding one vague sentence. Does the memo later state what amount of signage constitutes a defining feature?

  10. pete2112 - Sep 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Craig, who cares about the signage at Wrigley?? Lets talk about that incompetent grounds crew some more.

  11. echech88 - Sep 5, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    As long as the Ivy is still there and the scoreboard, I don’t care about the ads. You can keep the Wrigley-ness intact and still upgrade to a functional building that meets MLB standards outside of Oakland.

  12. delusionalcubsfan - Sep 5, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Add one more to the list of things slowing down the Wrigley Field renovation:
    1) The mayor, who doesn’t like them because the owners are republican.
    2) The alderman, who doesn’t like them because they need to make bigger campaign donations.
    3) The planning and zoning commision, who are lackeys for the above mentioned parties.
    4) The neighborhood, who were shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover Wrigley Field creates noise and traffic.
    5) The taxpayers, who don’t want to give a dime, even though taxes helped pay for Cellular Field, The United Center and Soldier Field.
    6) The rooftop owners, who’s business model is based on stealing a free view into the stadium.
    7) The Park Service, who doesn’t like their advertising plan.

    You’d think the Cubs didn’t generate million$ for the neighborhood, city and state!

    Hard to believe they haven’t left for the suburbs yet, where cities continue to offer them free land, free roads, free tax money, anything they want. Someday Chicago might just kill the golden goose.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Sep 5, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      Best comment ever.

    • Reflex - Sep 5, 2014 at 7:28 PM

      To be clear, multiple independent studies have determined that in a best case scenario a sports team is break even for a city. All of the benefits are pretty well negated by drawbacks, such as increased infrastructure costs, higher levels of services required (police for instance) and the fact that the economic activity a stadium generates mostly draws away from other businesses in the area.

      I doubt politics of the owners are a factor given that the previous owner was a media company and they didn’t get any further with these requests.

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