Hooray for Wrigley Field Renovation and Parking

Background Reading

Summary

Chicago is in need of every positive thing it can achieve in order to fight the “negative press” that comes with gun violence. They got a bit more of that when the Cubs and the City of Chicago reached an agreement that keeps the Cubs in town and offers at the same time some much needed amenities that help the Ricketts Family happy:

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

After weeks of intense negotiations, the Chicago Cubs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney have finalized an agreement that will spur the team to begin its five-year, $500 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field and develop property around the stadium. Keeping in mind that this is just a framework for new community initiatives, relaxed game-day restrictions and new allowances for the Cubs that will have to go through the usual process of city and community approval, here are the details: BALLPARK SIGNAGE

The city and Mr. Tunney have agreed to allow the Cubs to erect a video screen in left field, as well as a right field advertising sign “in the style” of the existing Toyota sign that currently sits in left field. The Cubs will work with the city on placement of both signs “to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the needs of the team,” according to a statement from the Cubs. In addition, the Cubs will be able to install more signage inside the park, including areas around the seating bowl that will not block rooftop views. NIGHT GAMES AND GAME TIMES

The Cubs will be allowed to hold 40 night games per season — up from the current maximum of 30, capped by a 2004 neighborhood protection plan — under a new special City Council ordinance that will allow for additional night games when required by Major League Baseball’s national TV contract. The 40 night games do not include playoffs or other games that are not counted under the current ordinance. The Cubs will also be allowed to start six games at 3:05 p.m. on Fridays (unlike the usual 1:20 p.m. starts). BEER SALES

The Cubs will be allowed to extend beer sales to the end of the 7th inning or 10:30 p.m., whichever is earlier. The current cut-off is end of the 7th inning or 9:20 p.m. SHEFFIELD AND WAVELAND AVENUES

The team will be allowed to use a closed-to-traffic Sheffield Avenue beginning two hours before game times through the end of the 2nd inning for weekend home games, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In addition, the city will vacate a parking lane on Waveland Avenue for the Cubs to build a new exterior wall in left field. The configuration of that new wall may be a key factor in how minimal the impact of the left field video board will be on Waveland Avenue rooftops. ‘TRIANGLE PROPERTY’ DEVELOPMENT

The Cubs-owning Ricketts family will be allowed to develop a building at the north end of the “triangle property” adjacent to Wrigley Field (the current parking lot on the west side of the park) to house Cubs offices and a meeting space, as well as a plaza that will be managed by the team featuring retail shops and a kids zone, pending planned development and other formal approval processes with community input. SHERATON HOTEL ACROSS THE STREET

The Cubs will be allowed to build their planned boutique Sheraton hotel on Clark Street, across from from the park. The hotel will include 175 rooms, 75 parking spaces, food and beverage sellers and retail shops, as well as a 40,000-square-foot Chicago Athletic Club location and a pedestrian bridge with public access over Clark Street connecting the hotel and the triangle property plaza. The Cubs also will be allowed to place signage along the hotel, the triangle property office building and the plaza, including four video screens within the plaza on which the team will advertise, broadcast Cubs games and show “Movies in the Plaza” for the publicPARKING

The Cubs will develop a new parking plan calling for 1,000 free parking spots off site with a shuttle to Wrigley Field. They’ll also put together an awareness campaign with Mr. Tunney’s office and the Chicago Department of Transportation to better educate fans about remote parking options and other alternative ways of getting to the park, like bikes and the CTA. (Improving awareness of existing options was something neighborhood groups and the Alderman have pushed recently). The Cubs will also be allowed to reconstruct the “Brown Lot” on Eddy Street, pending community approvalTRAFFIC

There will be new Clark Street traffic lights to control game-day congestion, and the Cubs will work with the city and community on a new public safety plan that will provide 30 additional safety personnel outside the park after games. In exchange for the potential increase in traffic, the Cubs will contribute to the School Street Play Lot funding effort and make annual contributions for the next 10 years for public projects benefitting the area, as agreed upon by Mr. Tunney and the team. CONCERTS AND EVENTS

The deal allows for four concerts at Wrigley Field per year under the new special ordinance to come, as well as greater flexibility for off-season and smaller events. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Cubs will be allowed to build a two-story Captain Morgan Club on Addison Street, with a merchandise store and first-floor space for the visiting team clubhouse. The current Captain Morgan Club, one the southeast corner of the ballpark, is a small, one-story pavilion.

Evidently the Goats Head prank was not persuasive enough to get the deal trashed. As usual the knuckleheads in the activist community have about as much negotiating skill as they do brains. So instead of achieving any real objective they have to eat a bit of crow and get on with their miserable lives. Of course the promise of being able to drink later into the evening and the Captain Morgan Club expansion should assuage the alcoholic tendencies of the group enough to keep them in a slight stupor long enough to get some more deals done in the city limits.