Wrigley renovations, Jumbotron approved

City Council to vote on Wrigley renovation plan
July 24, 2013 11:20:32 AM PDT
Chicago's City Council gave final approval Wednesday to a $500 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field that includes its first massive Jumbotron, improved facilities for the players in the bowels of the 99-year-old ballpark and a hotel across the street.

Aldermen voted Wednesday to support the work for the home of the Cubs, one day after it got crucial approval from a City Council zoning committee and the alderman whose ward includes the ballpark.

The Jumbotron will be a first for the 99-year-old ballpark on the city's north side. The team is also adding another sign in right field. But they agreed not to build any other signs that could block the views of rooftop businesses across the street. They also shelved a planned pedestrian bridge just west of the park.

The Cubs, which waited decades to install lights at Wrigley, have been pushing for renovations since the Ricketts family bought the team in 2009.

"I can support this plan development with the protections from my neighborhood moving forward, and a respectful relationship with the Cubs and the community, and the city and our mayor," said 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney. "

Supporters are not only looking forward to the estimated thousands of jobs the plan will bring to the neighborhood, fans are hoping it helps the team on the field, too.

"If you vote yes for Wrigley Field, we will have a World Series at Wrigley Field as soon as this is done to break the Billy Goat curse," said fan Trudy Acheatel.

The club will move the entrance of the proposed hotel to Clark Street.

In a statement ahead of Wednesday morning's council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "While there is work to do, we are continuing to move forward on this plan to bring valuable jobs and economic impact to the Lakeview community without using taxpayer dollars."

But despite the changes, some people who live near the aging ballpark still don't like it.

"I never signed up to live right behind a 100-foot hotel," said area resident Jim Williams. "There hasn't been one built in a 100 years. I don't see why I should have anticipated that."

Renovations and construction would start in the fall after baseball season. It would take about five years to complete.

Under the plan, the Chicago Cubs would erect a 5,700-square-foot electronic Jumbotron in left field above the ivy-covered outfield walls that is roughly three times as large as the iconic manual scoreboard in center field.

After an effort to get public help for the project failed, the Cubs said the team would fund the entire renovation - but it needed the signs and the advertising revenue they would generate to help pay for it.

Still looming is whether the Jumbotron and right field sign will disrupt the views of the rooftops that surround two sides of the ballpark. The owners of the rooftops, who have a contract with the Cubs to share a chunk of their revenue with the team, have said repeatedly that they might file suit if the Cubs put up anything that cuts into their views.

The back-and-forth became so heated that at one point, the team's chairman, Tom Ricketts, floated the idea of moving the team to another location where it could get the amenities it needs to compete with other teams.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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