Tom Ricketts Makes His Case For Wrigley Renovations

Al Yellon

The Cubs chairman met with news media Monday morning to discuss the Wrigley renovation deal; the detailed plan as released by the team is below.

In a news conference on the concourse of Wrigley Field behind third base -- perhaps intended to show the media and those watching live exactly what sorts of renovations the 99-year-old ballpark needs -- Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts laid out the team's comprehensive proposal, detailed below, for the rehab of Wrigley.

Ricketts thanked everyone involved, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney (and he said there was no particular reason those two weren't in attendance), for all of the talks that led to what he termed the "framework" of a deal. Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me after the news conference that others, including the rooftop owners and neighborhood groups, would be involved in final discussions before this proposal goes to a vote before the city council, which the team hopes will take place by June.

Ricketts emphasized how much he loves Wrigley Field and was always committed to staying there; the Rosemont "proposal" was never seriously considered. He did mention, as he's said many times before, that both fan amenities and player amenities must be improved so that the team can compete on equal footing with the rest of major league baseball.

There's no specific time frame, but the Cubs would obviously like to get this started this offseason; that depends on Council approval. Ricketts said, as was mentioned when this was first proposed at the Cubs Convention in January, that it would take five offseasons, and they could work in Chicago winters, similar to what they did in Boston when doing similar work at Fenway Park.

No renderings have yet become available for the proposed 6,000-square-foot video board that the Cubs want in left field, but Green said they'd be available "soon"; I'll post them here when I get them. To me, that still seems somewhat large for the footprint of Wrigley, and it seemed clear to me that this detailed proposal (or "framework") could still be adjusted in a number of ways.

Naturally, no post of this type would be complete without the rooftop owners barging in. They released yet another aggressive statement; I leave it to you to react (I think you can already tell what my reaction is):

"We are pleased the Chicago Cubs will participate in a community process to flesh out these details more in-depth. However, no community process, city ordinance, or agreement without our consent can or should dismiss contractual rights granted to us by the Chicago Cubs in 2OO4.  Rooftop owners reserve the right to use any and all means necessary to enforce the remaining 11 years of our 2O-year contract. We, as well as every interested party in the Lakeview neighborhood, will study the plans submitted to the City of Chicago and play a constructive role in moving forward."

"Any and all means necessary"? "Without our consent"? Seriously, these people need to just back off and negotiate as good partners in good faith with everyone involved.

For those of you who want to look through the entire history of the Cubs' renovation proposals, I have created this StoryStream™ which contains all the posts I've written on this topic dating back to 2010.

The Cubs released a very long, detailed list of the proposed "Restoration Plan". I summarized many of the terms in this post earlier today, but I thought I'd post the entire list so you can go through it in detail. The remainder of this post is the Cubs' plan, as released Monday, April 15.

The Restoration plan includes the following:

Community Benefits

  • A $1 million commitment to fund a new park and playlot at 1230 W. School.
  • $3.75 million donated by Cubs for community infrastructure and amenities agreed jointly by Cubs and Alderman ($500,000 per year from 2014-2018; $250,000 per year from 2019-2023).
  • A $500 million investment to create jobs, improve our community appearance, enhance the neighborhood and upgrade undeveloped, underutilized and unattractive existing space.
  • An open-air plaza outside the ballpark with ability to continue hosting an ice rink in the winter and add farmers markets in the summer, free family activities and other community events. This amenity has been applauded by members of the community and is consistent with a long-term vision to enhance Lake View.
  • A premium hotel, in partnership with Starwood, hosting 175 rooms, plus a 40,000-square-foot health club, retail and food and beverage options for fans and for the community throughout the year.
  • Free remote parking, replacing the current $6 remote parking fee. Other parking solutions being explored include the ability to allow Cubs fans to access unused parking garages in the vicinity of Wrigley Field.
  • Additional parking, including 100 new spaces in the Cubs-owned parking lot on Eddy Street and 75 below-ground spaces in the new hotel.
  • A commitment to work with the Chicago Police Department and its special police detail unit to place additional officers during Cubs night events on Thursday to Sunday nights. The City, Cubs and local businesses will work together with a goal of 30 on- and off-duty officers to deter inappropriate behavior after games.
  • A comprehensive traffic study to address new opportunities to reduce traffic congestion during Wrigley Field events.
  • CubFund to be used for new stoplights at Clark and School, Roscoe.
  • Continue our strong relationship with the Lake View community which has yielded donations from Chicago Cubs Charities of $323,000 directly to Lake View in 2012. Since the year 2000 we have supported more than $2.3 million in grants directly to organizations serving Lakeview.

As a reminder:

No public dollars are needed for this project. Unlike almost every team in Major League Baseball and the other teams in Chicago, the Wrigley Field restoration project is not supported by public financing. The Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs will bring $500 million in new investment to Wrigley Field and the surrounding areas, creating 2,100 new jobs and generating hundreds of millions in new tax revenue for the city, state and county. The 2,100 new jobs include 800 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs. It would be among the biggest investments currently underway in the City of Chicago.

A restoration of Wrigley Field will preserve its unique charm and historic traditions for a generation, while adding new clubhouse space, restoring aging concrete and steel, adding food choices and enhancing the fan experience. By creating new concessions, a new restaurant and other tourist attractions, the renovation will generate $1.2 billion in economic activity to boost the economy and businesses around the City over the life of the project.

All designs and construction are subject to a Planned Development process. Community participation and input to this point has been helpful on night games, ballpark design, plaza and hotel. More community involvement is welcomed.

Rooftop views are largely preserved. Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield – a videoboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration. Signs will be placed in a manner to limit impact on rooftops.

Investment in the Community

Cubs will make annual contributions ($500,000 a year for 2014-2018, $250,000 per year for 2019-2023) for community infrastructure projects and investments. Projects to be determined jointly by the Alderman and the Cubs.

New Parking Plan

  • Cubs offer 1,000 free remote parking spots with shuttle to Wrigley Field for all Cubs’ night and weekend games. Program will be readjusted after three years if cost to Cubs exceeds $100,000 and, if so, fee may be charged or costs of operating the lot may come from community infrastructure projects and investments.
  • CDOT, the Cubs and Alderman will work to develop marketing and public education efforts to encourage this parking option.
  • As long as Cubs offer these spaces, they will not be required to construct new parking structures (for example, Green Lot).

New Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan.

New traffic lights on Clark Street. One traffic light (cost: $350,000) to be paid by the Cubs and two to be paid for from the existing CubFund.

New Public Safety Plan.

  • 30 additional safety personnel outside park after games to ensure public safety (ten of which will be provided by Cubs).
  • City will also work with community to devise CPD shift schedule to better address community concerns.
  • City and Cubs to explore new rules banning low-flying aircraft around Wrigley Field to protect the community from noise and other disturbances.
  • Cubs will contribute $1 million to School Street play lot funding effort ($250,000 to come from first year’s infrastructure contribution).

Inside Stadium

  • 40 night games (baseball only); up from current 30 games
  • If Major League Baseball or its national television contract requires Cubs to play more than five home night games in any season, such games will be authorized by special ordinance and will not count against the 40-game limit or require additional cost to Cubs.
  • If timing does not allow for ordinance, the Corporation Counsel will authorize. At the completion of the fifth baseball season under this new night game ordinance, the Cubs and the City will evaluate the impact of the new MLB national television contract on this revised night game formula, provided however Cubs will not be required to reduce the number of night events allowed or be required to incur any other costs.
  • This does not include playoffs, All Star Game, events outside the baseball season, events when fewer than 15,000 are expected to attend, games rescheduled because of weather or other cause, or other events excluded under the current ordinance, which will be allowed as well.
  • No Saturday or Sunday night games unless MLB schedules for national TV purposes.
  • Special ordinance for concerts (maximum of four), with no additional cost to Cubs. These do not count as a Night Game. Weekends permitted. Anything beyond four concerts will count as a night game.
  • Six 3:05 starts on Friday, up from current zero games.
  • Cubs will have flexibility to schedule smaller events in-season and to schedule off-season events at Wrigley Field without sacrificing a night game or incurring additional cost.
  • One videoboard in left field of 6,000 square feet. Cubs will choose the location with goal, where not inconsistent with the needs of the ballpark, of minimal impact on rooftops with whom Cubs have an agreement. The videoboard may be further cantilevered over the public street to help further minimize impact on rooftops.
  • One sign in Right Field of 1,000 square feet in the style of the existing Toyota sign. Cubs will choose the location with the goal, where not inconsistent with the needs of the ballpark, for the sign to have minimal impact on rooftops with whom Cubs have an agreement.
  • Cubs to have discretion on all signage inside the ballpark not impacting rooftops, including, for example: Center field restoration, LED ribbon board along upper deck grand stand, new fan deck in left field with signs, new sign on wall in right field, behind home plate.
  • City will vacate sidewalk and one street lane on Waveland Avenue (Sheffield to Clark), at no cost to Cubs, which will be incorporated into the ballpark, subject to a requirement to maintain eight feet of sidewalk. This will allow the left field video board to be moved further north, thus minimizing sightline impact on rooftops. It also increases the open space on the plaza by moving the office building further North.
  • City will vacate sidewalk on Sheffield Avenue (Addison to Waveland), at no cost to Cubs, which will be incorporated into the ballpark, subject to a requirement to maintain eight feet of sidewalk.
  • New two-story Captain Morgan Club on Addison Street of at least 14,000 square feet with merchandise store and space for visitors’ clubhouse, to replace the existing street-level restaurant. [Signage allowed on exterior (including top) of Captain Morgan Club.]
  • New additions to the ballpark in left field and right field corners to allow more flexible space for Cubs fans, including connection points to bleachers and grandstands at height of current bleachers.* The right field addition will also include a ground floor restaurant opening (an expanded version of the Sheffield Grill) onto Sheffield Avenue.*
  • Beer sales extended to end of 7th inning or 10:30pm, whichever is earlier and until the end of concert for concert dates.
  • Use of Sheffield Avenue for weekend home games between Memorial Day and Labor Day beginning two hours before game and ending at end of 2nd inning. After plaza construction is completed, use of Sheffield Avenue will be reevaluated to determine if Sheffield or the Plaza is appropriate location for pre-game activity.
  • Instituting and enforcing rules for peddlers and street performers consistent with U.S. Cellular Field and the United Center.
  • The City will maintain and enforce, through 2023, current rooftop capacity limits, current rooftop height limitations and current advertising ban within the Rooftop District.
  • Crackdown on other illegal commercial activity outside Wrigley Field, possibly through city ordinance.
  • Night game and 3:05 game ordinance to be introduced to City Council in May 2013 and voted on no later than June City Council meeting.

Outside Stadium.

  • Proposal must go through Planned Development process with community input.
  • Hotel with height of at least 91’, size and density to accommodate 175 rooms, 75 parking spaces, food and beverage (including alcohol as appropriate), retail and a 40,000 square foot health club.
  • A proposed covered entrance to the hotel, which entrance canopy may cover Patterson.
  • Advertising will be allowed on the hotel exterior for both on-premise business as well as part of sponsorship packages from the Triangle Plaza or Wrigley Field.
  • Pedestrian bridge with public access over Clark Street connecting Hotel and Plaza at no cost (other than actual cost of construction of the bridge). Will have “Welcome to Wrigleyville” sign.
  • Approximate 85-foot structure at north end of Triangle property to house offices, hotel meeting space, retail and a kids zone. Advertising will be allowed on south and west faces of building.
  • Four-screen digital board with limited hours of operation (off from 11 pm to 6 am) to be erected in Plaza. Can be used for advertising, viewing Cubs games, movies in the park and other purposes.
  • Plaza plans will be used for public summer activity center and winter ice rink when not otherwise used for events. Ability to operate in Plaza, including sale of food and beverage, retail space, restaurants, special and recurring events, etc., to meet desired use. Alcohol allowed. The Planned Development will authorize all uses in current Wrigley Field PD and contain other elements to encourage events on the plaza to make it an attractive space and economically viable.
  • Other advertising and advertising structures within Plaza will be allowed.
  • 35,000 square feet of advertising between the Hotel, Plaza and Captain Morgan developments in amounts and locations shown on drawings.
  • Signage matrix, showing signs inside and outside the ballpark, to be approved.
  • Cubs will be allowed to reconstruct the Parking Lot on Eddy Street (Brown Lot) to accommodate an additional 100 cars with a maximum of 300 total. Design and height to be reviewed by the Alderman and City, but may be one story higher than the current structure. This will service customers of the Hotel as well as baseball games.
  • No new billboards will be allowed within view of the ballpark and the City will explore protections to prevent ambush marketing in the area around Wrigley Field.
  • Rezoning and usage as needed to achieve intended purpose of the restoration and the developments inside and outside as noted in these terms.
  • City will work with Cubs to coordinate all relevant departments for approval of process to aid Cubs in meeting construction schedule to avoid interfering with baseball season. May require approval under current Planned Development. Planned Development will be submitted as soon as possible, with final approval votes to take place prior to October 2013.

Other

City will support and promote Cubs application to obtain Class L property tax status, available to all privately-funded Chicago historic landmark restorations.

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