Commission approves parts of Wrigley renovation, but vote on outfield signs

June 27, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A vote on those big signs has been delayed, but a hope that a compromise can be reached on the size of those signs. Other than that, everything to do with the ballpark, inside and outside, was passed on Thursday, including expanding the outfield walls, something Alderman Tom Tunney is against.

Wrigley Field turns 100 years old next year and the cubs hope to celebrate with a $500 million renovation of the historic ball park and area surrounding it.

Thursday, the team cleared its first big hurdle with approval from the Chicago Landmarks Commission.

"We think with this step (Thursday), having this approval by the Landmarks Commission, really gives us an opportunity to move forward," said Cubs spokesman Julian Green. "It gives us some momentum to sit down with the aldermen and the city to come together with a plan that works."

It's a plan that many Wrigleyville residents and longtime fans like.

"To have someone come in and say, 'I'm going to spend $500 million to improve your community.' It is a no brainer," said Katie Kennicott.

While the Landmarks Commission approved several parts to modernize the Friendly Confines, it delayed approval of the most controversial element of the plan, two big signs. The 6,000-foot Jumbotron in left field and a 1,000-square-foot advertising sign in right field. 44th ward Alderman Tom Tunney is hoping a compromise can be reached that would reduce the size of the Jumbotron.

"We are still negotiating the size, the height, the width and how it impacts the community," Tunney said.

Tunney says the lighting of the signs can be seen a mile away. While he says it's a quality of life issue for the entire community, the rooftop owners continue to be a part of process. They are confident the Cubs will relent, even though the team gave no indication they would budge.

"I think they will give way from the square footage of their Jumbotron," said rooftop owner George Loukas.

"These two are critical to this particular project and we need these to move forward and we want to help to make sure the city of Chicago understand that, the alderman understands that, so that we can make a significant investment," Green said.

The Landmarks Commission will meet on July 11 to discuss those signs, so until then there is going to be a lot of behind the scenes negotiating going on. Even once the Landmarks Commissions do pass those signs, the Cubs still have a long way to go, with a lot of hearing and committees before the entire $500 million plan is approved.

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