Wrigley Renovations: A Plaza Over Sheffield?

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

Wait till you hear this proposal for the Wrigley renovation deal that you thought was completed last week.

If you thought the Wrigley renovation deal was a done deal, it's not quite completely done. There's one more sticking point, and that has to do with the rooftop owners still not being completely happy that some of their views might be blocked by the two signs (the Jumbotron and the see-through sign) that the Cubs plan on putting in the outfield.

The Tribune sums up the dispute this way:

[Cubs chairman Tom] Ricketts issued a statement after last week's council meeting saying that he will not commit to starting renovation work unless the rooftop owners agree not to sue over blocked views; the city agrees to enforce all rooftop club regulations on capacity, serving liquor and hours of operation; and the team gets "long-term certainty over control of our outfield." Translated, that means Ricketts wants the freedom to put up more outfield signs after the Cubs' revenue-sharing deal with the rooftops expires at the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, rooftop owners want a 10-year moratorium on signs in the outfield beyond the script sign and 5,700-square-foot LED video board in left that the council approved. Ricketts agreed to the moratorium but only if the rooftop owners agree not to sue.

A possible solution to this was proposed late this week:

One idea being floated as a way to break the impasse involves extending the stadium's exterior right-field wall back 8 more feet and building a patio that would stretch above Sheffield Avenue. The configuration would take out a lane of parking on the east side of the street and shut out some daylight.

That configuration would allow the Cubs to move a planned 650-square-foot illuminated script sign back to the rear of the patio deck, maintaining the current views from the right-field rooftops. Such a move could go a ways toward avoiding a lawsuit.

The patio also would provide a spot for the Cubs to stage additional moneymaking events, both during games and on nongame days. The team could treat the patio deck as a trade-off for agreeing not to put a pedestrian bridge with advertising over Clark Street to link a new hotel to the proposed office-retail complex on the triangle property next to the ballpark.

An example of what this might look like appears at the top of this post. To me, this is the Cubs going way out of their way to appease the rooftop owners; this sort of thing doesn't really fit in with the neighborhood that well, and might be complicated to build, especially with residential properties right across the street. The neighborhood people don't seem to want any part of it:

While some say there could be a measure of benefit in the patio if it also includes a pedestrian bridge to the nearby CTA Red Line "L" station at Addison, others say it's simply not acceptable.

"At this point in time, we are strongly opposed" to the patio, said Chester Kropidlowski, chairman of the East Lake View Neighbors. "We're concerned about losing the residential character of our community."

Nicole Greenberg-Strecker, administrator of the wrigleyresidents.com site maintained by Wrigleyville residents and businesses, said she initially thought the patio might benefit the community if it had the CTA walkway, but ended up concluding that "no one is going to support that except the building owners who suggested it."

Exactly. The impact on the rooftops from the Cubs' new signs/video board is going to be minimal, and again, the Cubs seem to be trying virtually everything to avoid a lawsuit so they can begin their construction. It doesn't seem technologically feasible to build a walkway to the CTA platform, anyway; that would either have to be squeezed into the east-west alley just north of Addison and Sheffield, or snake its way around to Addison. Either way sounds kind of convoluted.

The rooftop businesses, in my view, are simply going to have to accept the fact that they're going to lose portions of their views of the field, to see a product that they don't produce and pay a small fraction of their revenues for.

It's time for the rooftops to stand down and stand out of the way so the Cubs can start construction.

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