Wrigley Renovation: In The Home Stretch?

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

The Cubs' home opener is Monday. Isn't it about time to get this deal done?

Are you getting tired of hearing this story? Would you like it if the Cubs announced a Wrigley Field renovation deal had been made, Monday at Wrigley before the team's home opener?

Yeah, me too. But we don't have that. Yet. What we do have is yet another article, this time from the Tribune, about how talks are "dragging on":

On Saturday, the sources identified several sticking points: the size, shape and precise location of a Jumbotron-like video screen in left field and another new sign in right field, compensation for blocked views from rooftop buildings and an extension of a revenue-sharing contract between the team and the rooftop owners.

The rooftop owners would like more detail about the signs and were concerned that the one proposed for right field would be nearly three times larger than the semitransparent Toyota sign now in left field, one source said.

Another thing I'm tired of is the phrase "the rooftop owners". I don't think there's much doubt that a deal would have been done long ago if not for the aggressive tone taken by these owners -- really, primarily three of them: Beth Murphy, George Loukas and Tom Gramatis -- whining and complaining and screaming about their deal, their rights, their views... personally, I'm sick of it.

It's been reported that the rooftop owners want an extension of their deal, which expires 11 years from now. And why is that? I've learned that the primary reason is the mortgages held on various rooftop buildings, which have to be refinanced every five years or so. Via publicly available numbers, you can see that these commercial mortgages are quite large:

3627 Sheffield, $6,225,OOO, 2/2O13

3639 Sheffield, $1,74O,OOO, 11/2O1O

3617 Sheffield, $2,6OO,OOO, 4/2O12; $9,3OO,OOO, 5/2OO8; $2O,OOO,OOO, 5/2OO8

The last of those is for the two new buildings -- 3617-19 N. Sheffield -- that were constructed on a formerly vacant lot that had been used for parking until those 2008 loans were taken out. Obviously, if the Cubs don't extend the deal -- and they do not seem to be inclined to do so -- it will be much harder for the rooftop businesses to refinance.

Given their aggressive tone, I have a real hard time finding any sympathy for them. It's time for the city to make a deal that will benefit everyone, the team, the neighborhood -- and it seems, based on the Tribune article, that the Cubs will help pay for some of the extra police protection the neighbors are looking for.

Here's something else likely to be interesting, regarding 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney:

Tunney, who declined comment Saturday, has scheduled a meeting with community residents this week. If a deal has been announced by then, the meeting likely will be the start of his effort to get consensus on the plans, which must be cleared by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and the City Council.

Given Tunney's stances up to now, that could be quite a contentious meeting. It would seem to me that if a deal's announced, the landmark commission and city council won't have any real issues approving it.

Let's get this done, so the Cubs can start the renovation project. It's way past time.

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