Wrigley Renovations: Cubs Threaten Rooftops

Al Yellon

You won't be surprised by anything either the Cubs or the rooftops said in the latest skirmish between them.

I didn't necessarily want to make the headline to this article sound so harsh, but that's exactly how Fran Spielman's latest Sun-Times article on this topic begins:

The Cubs threatened Thursday to take immediate advantage of the authority the City Council gave them to put up a 650-square foot see-through sign in right-field at Wrigley Field if rooftop club owners won’t agree not to sue to block the stadium renovation project.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green issued the thinly veiled threat after the Commission on Chicago Landmarks authorized a Class L property tax break for the 99-year-old stadium that could save the team $8 million over 12 years.

The sign would be in a location and look similar to what you see at the top of this post; I took that photo in May when the Cubs put up mock-ups of both this sign and the Jumbotron that will eventually be installed behind the left-field bleachers. It doesn't appear to me that any such sign -- and I believe the final 650-square-foot size is actually smaller than this mock-up -- would block any views from any of the rooftops.

Naturally, the rooftop owners weren't pleased:

Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for rooftop club owners, said: “There are ongoing conversations taking place with our contractual partners. We believe a solution exists that does not block our views.”

The only "solution" the rooftop owners have ever offered is to put signs on their buildings, an offer the Cubs have rejected. The Cubs seem ready to go ahead with this, and soon:

“We will not start renovations to the ballpark until we resolve the remaining issues with the rooftops. However, that does not preclude us from putting up signs in the outfield,” Green said. “The video board [in left-field] will obviously take some time [because of the need to develop video programming]. But, the right field sign — that one we could move forward with pretty quickly.”

After this homestand, just 26 home dates remain, but as Green noted, a sign such as the one that has already been approved could be placed quickly, maybe even for those remaining home dates.

The Sun-Times article goes on to discuss further the Sheffield Avenue "deck" that's been proposed as a possible solution to some of the rooftop issues. To me, that deck is a non-starter for any one of a number of reasons; logistically it just doesn't seem feasible and it could not only interfere with rooftops, but with life in the neighborhood in general, not to mention fire trucks getting through and/or having to deal with any emergencies in the buildings on Sheffield. Just my opinion, but I think that "deck" will remain exactly what it is right now -- renderings published by newspapers and websites.

The rest of the article is dedicated to discussing the property tax break approved Thursday. It is, as noted, going to save the Cubs $8 million over a 12-year period. That's about $666,667 a year, or approximately what Anthony Rizzo is making this year in the first year of his recently-negotiated multi-year deal. I think the city can afford that to keep this $500-million project going.

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