Emanuel talks about effort to renovate Wrigley

FILE-- Baseball fans cheer in the upper deck of Wrigley field in this 2002 photo. (AP) ((AP Photo/Ted S. Warren))

April 3, 2012 8:31:16 PM PDT
It appears Mayor Rahm Emanuel may be close to a deal with the family that owns the Chicago Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been working to raise money to pay for Wrigley Field improvements since his family bought the team more than two years ago. He declined to comment on the efforts Tuesday, deferring to Mayor Emanuel who says a deal could be close.

"We've had good conversations," said Emanuel. "We're kind of in the final stages of that. But I'm here to represent the people of Chicago and to represent the taxpayers."

It is significant progress from the last time the Ricketts family proposed using money from the city's entertainment tax to help fund the project. But the effort fell flat when Mayor Daley and other leaders balked at using taxpayer money on a privately owned facility.

The Cubs released only a written statement: "We continue to have discussions with the city, state, county and our Wrigleyville neighbors to ensure Wrigley Field remains a leading source of tourism, tax revenue and employment."

The Cubs' long term plans continue to include construction of the so-called triangle building next to the park that would include a restaurant.

But the mayor says the owners also have to put money into the ballpark.

"I will not put my money in their field so they can take their money and invest around the field and get greater economic value," he said.

Many Cubs fans say they are more open to the idea now.

"I think if it'll help the ballpark and the team it's a good idea," said Anna Turturillo.

"If they use the amusement tax, I think it's OK," said Mike Pearson.

While the Cubs and the city continue to negotiate, any deal would likely have to have approval from the state, and that has yet to happen.