A proposed $500 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field received crucial backing Tuesday from the local alderman and a Chicago City Council committee, clearing a path for final approval.
Alderman Tom Tunney said he signed off on the deal after winning concessions from the Chicago Cubs owners, who also own the ballpark. Among them was an agreement not to erect any outfield signs in addition to an electronic Jumbotron in left field - a first for the 99-year-old ballpark - and another large sign in right. Tunney said the Cubs also agreed to postpone indefinitely a proposed bridge over adjoining Clark Street.
"With the changes noted, I can now support this planned development," Tunney said. "Our community has achieved many goals and victories through this process. As this project becomes a reality in the coming years, no doubt there will be more issues and details to be debated."
A short time later, by a voice vote, the City Council's zoning committee approved the renovation project and sent it to the full council for a Wednesday vote.
Tunney's support was crucial because there is a tradition in Chicago that other aldermen vote the way the local alderman wants in zoning and development issues.
"What we are trying to do is to obviously give the Cubs the resources to win a World Series, right?" said Ald. Tom Tunney.
The Cubs have said they need the additional revenue the advertising would generate so they can put a better team on the field. Some fans tonight say they doubt the two parts are related.
"I hope they do this renovating, and hotel, and make it look really nice down here. That's what I hope. I don't knowl l about a World Series," said Ralph Cleveland, Cubs fan.
The deal involves compromise. The Cubs agreed to move the entrance of the proposed hotel to Clark Street, and drop plans for now to build a pedestrian bridge over Clark. They will also limit their request to two outfield signs. Community leaders are looking forward to the 2,000 jobs the cubs say the project will generate.
"Waiting for today has kind of been like waiting for Christmas," said Heather Way, Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Emanuel issued a statement Tuesday night saying: "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 any taxpayer dollars."
Still several neighbors say they are leery of the hotel development.
The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal Wednesday morning, and they are expected to approve it. The Cubs say all that's left after that is to make sure they have an agreement with rooftop owners and also with Major League Baseball regarding night games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.