Wrigley Renovation Deal Possible By Monday

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

After contentious negotiations, bluster and preposterous proposals to move the Cubs under a jet flight path, a deal to restore Wrigley Field may be at hand.

After all the angst, suddenly, 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney says everyone's going to kiss and make up by Monday:

"Can we come to an agreement on additional police, remote parking, additional parking in the neighborhood, community infrastructure improvements, and more night games? Yes, I think we can get there before (Monday)," Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, told the Tribune editorial board after requesting an impromptu afternoon meeting.

For the first time, the alderman publicly said he has agreed to allow the team to put up a large video scoreboard in left field despite the objections of rooftop club owners surrounding the stadium. But he cautioned that the size still is being worked out. Tunney also said there’s agreement on another sign in right field.

We've rehashed the issues many times here so I don't think I need to repeat them all again. I do want to mention something regarding parking. I'm still very, very skeptical that putting a garage -- and the Tribune article linked above says building such a structure on the land the Cubs own near Grace and Clark could add "400 to 500 parking spaces" is a good idea in an area as congested as the neighborhood around Wrigley. One of the things the neighborhood complains about most is traffic. And Tunney proposes to add 400 to 500 more cars to pre- and post-game traffic? This is a bad idea.

Remote parking, also mentioned by Tunney, is a better idea. The issue there is: I can't think of anywhere within two miles or so of Wrigley Field (the same distance that the current remote lot at DeVry Institute is located) where you could park several hundred to, say, 1,000 cars. There just isn't that much open land.

Literally the only place where such land might become available sometime in the future is the location of the A. Finkl and Sons steel plant at 2011 N. Southport; the plant is in the process of moving to the Southeast Side and the land will eventually be cleared for redevelopment. Perhaps the Cubs could buy part of it for a parking garage; it's about two and a half miles from Wrigley and close to entrances to the Kennedy Expressway, suitable particularly for people coming from south or west of Wrigley. Naturally, you'd have an issue there too:

Meanwhile, future development of the company's property on the North Side could lead to debate over the future of manufacturing there. Some residents want the site cleared for housing because it has river views. To do so, however, aldermen would have to end the area's designation as a "planned manufacturing district," which protected it from encroaching residential development a quarter-century ago.

That gets away from the main topic here, which has become contentious with the perception -- warranted, I think -- that Ald. Tunney has been protecting the interests of rooftop owners over and above the interests of the rest of his constituents.

It appears from the Tribune article that reasonable compromises are being struck. Wow, what a concept! Here's one more thing I have some comments about:

He said the interested parties are studying a recommendation by a community group for seven more night games plus additional concerts. Tunney said he also could agree to allow the Cubs to once again start several Friday afternoon games at 3:05 p.m. instead of 1:20 p.m.

Maybe it's just me, but I hate 3:05 games. They let out at a particularly bad time -- especially on Fridays -- and players hate the shadows that come across the infield about halfway through. Why couldn't they simply agree to allow the Cubs to play two or three Friday nights coming off road trips? I suppose 3:05 would help, but the problems those cause are worse than the solution, in my view. The additional night games on other days of the week would help the Cubs get on a schedule more similar to other teams.

I'm glad the egos appear to have been checked at the door and a deal's being done. If, somehow, it could be finished by early afternoon Monday, Tom Ricketts could even make an announcement before the game with the Brewers. That would be nice theater that might take away some of the bad taste left by these negotiations.

And by 2019, according to the tentative timetable announced by the Cubs at the convention, we'll have a "restored" (in the Cubs' own word used in January) Wrigley Field that will preserve the best of the past, along with modern amenities for both players and fans, that will make it a viable place to play baseball, hopefully for another 100 years.

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