Wrigley Renovations: Extended Bleacher Walls?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wrigley's outside bleacher wall -- like the one you see in the photo above -- could be extended to the edge of the current sidewalk if one of the new negotiating proposals becomes reality.

Now we're getting somewhere! In the Sun-Times, Fran Spielman reports that the talks on renovating Wrigley Field are "in the bottom of the ninth", quoting Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and there are a couple of interesting wrinkles added to the mix:

The mayor’s optimistic outlook about a deal that appeared to be sealed a week ago comes amid word that the right- and left-field walls of 99-year-old Wrigley would be extended as much as ten feet outward — taking out the sidewalk on Sheffield and a lane of traffic on Waveland — to give the Cubs more concession space and mitigate the impact of a giant video scoreboard in left and a see-through sign in right on rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley.

The Cubs plan also includes a proposed ornamental bridge across Clark Street that would allow guests staying at the hotel the Cubs plan to easily access a new office building expected to include conference rooms. Those air rights over Clark may trigger compensation to Chicago taxpayers.

Both of those ideas are new. What the first proposal appears to do is to extend the outer wall that you see in the photo above so that it would meet the back fence of the bleachers, which is currently cantilevered above the sidewalk (that photo is the Waveland side, but something similar would be done on Sheffield). This would give the Cubs wider concourses below the bleachers that they could use for more concession space, or just about anything. I'm not sure exactly how this would "mitigate the impact" of the proposed left-field video board, but if that's the way it would work, fine with me.

The bridge over Clark Street is an interesting idea as well, as it would connect the hotel with the ballpark; I'm not certain what the "new office building" mentioned in Spielman's article refers to, but again, if this is what it takes to get this deal done, then go ahead and do it.

According to Serena Dai at DNAinfo.com, Waveland Avenue would still be a two-way street if the wall is moved back:

The street parking could be lost so that Waveland from Sheffield to Clark stays a two-way street, sources said. The group discussed having Cubs potentially offer spots in team-owned lots to mitigate lost spots, said Will DeMille, the president of Lake View Citizens' Council.

We're not talking about that many parking spaces along Waveland -- I've parked there before on non-game days, and between Sheffield and Clark there might be 20 parking spaces, maybe 25 at most. In any case, all of this makes me more optimistic that a Wrigley renovation deal could be announced very, very soon.

Finally, this wouldn't be a Wrigley renovation post if I didn't have something, anything, about the Wrigley rooftop owners. So here's another quote from Beth Murphy:

"We’re not stealing their product because we pay them," Murphy said on WSCR-AM 67O's "The Mully and Hanley Show." "I don’t think it’s very much different from if you get the Major League package from Comcast or wherever and people come to your bar to watch the Blue Jays."

To complete Murphy's analogy, it would be exactly the same -- if I got the Major League package from Comcast and paid them 17 percent of their asking price. (Hint: Comcast wouldn't give me the product if I offered to do that.)

Let's hope the city and the Cubs have a complete deal to present to everyone in the next few days, so the team can get going on their construction plans and, within a few years, have a Wrigley Field that combines the best of its history with the modern amenities that 21st Century players and fans look for.

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