Will Wrigley Construction Start? Rahm: Maybe. Cubs: No.

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And some information about the expansion of Wrigley Field's outer walls.

I'm burying the lede on this post on purpose. First, here are competing views on whether the Cubs can actually begin construction on Wrigley Field renovations, via Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times:

At the Oct. 16 City Council meeting, Emanuel also plans to introduce an ordinance authorizing the closing of Sheffield for street fairs during weekend home games between Memorial Day and Labor Day, beginning two hours before the first pitch and ending at the end of the second inning.

Once all of those changes are in place, Emanuel is hoping to see some action on the $500 million project.

"We expect construction to begin in November," said a top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous.

Another Emanuel adviser added, "The mayor is meeting his commitments and expects the Cubs to do the same. But, we also are encouraging them and the rooftops to work out their differences."

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the mayor’s decision to waive compensation for the encroachment on Waveland and Sheffield is appropriate considering the "significant economic benefit" that the project will produce.

Green said the Cubs are prepared to do significant structural and electrical work at Wrigley during the off-season. But, he said, "Until we get a resolution with the rooftops, we will not begin construction. And that has yet to happen." 

So it sounds like "no" on construction on significant renovations this offseason, until the rooftop issue is resolved. Maybe that'll happen, but I tend to believe the Cubs on this issue, and the later we get into the offseason, the less likely anything is to happen.

I've written before about my opposition to street fairs around Wrigley; they inconvenience the neighbors, screw up traffic and give little benefit to the team. They're trying to re-make Sheffield into Yawkey Way near Fenway; the difference is, Yawkey Way is a commercial street and the Red Sox already own most of the businesses on it. That's quite different from the residential character of the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley.

Given the 2014 schedule, the closure -- presuming it's just for Saturday and Sunday games, though the article doesn't specifically define "weekend" -- would affect 14 home dates between the beginning of June and the end of August. That's not too onerous and might give the Cubs an indication of how well this might do in the future.

Now, here's the more important information in Spielman's article:

The Cubs will not be required to compensate Chicago taxpayers — beyond the $4.75 million in commitments they’ve made to Wrigleyville residents — for the use of public streets and sidewalks needed to expand 99-year-old Wrigley Field, City Hall said Wednesday.

A top mayoral aide disclosed that the $4.75 million the Cubs have promised Wrigleyville — including $1 million to build a park on School Street and $3.75 million over 10 years for neighborhood infrastructure projects of the community’s choosing — would be enough. There will be no additional compensation.

It's still not clear exactly how much "expansion" the Cubs need. As far as I know, the neighborhood is still opposed to making Waveland a one-way street behind the ballpark, primarily due to the firehouse located behind the left-field stands. This would make getting the fire truck in and out more difficult than it is now; also, tour buses often traverse Waveland to drop off and pick up passengers. It's narrow enough now; I can't imagine it narrowed even further.

As always, we await further developments.

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