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Wrigley Renovations: Landmarks, Tom Tunney And More

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) is at it again -- but this time he might have a point, as discussions about the Cubs' Wrigley renovation project drag on.

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks is holding a public hearing Thursday morning, to get underway just about the time this article posts, on the proposed renovations at Wrigley Field.

But the Commission is, according to this Chicago Sun-Times report, going to go ahead and approve some elements of the renovations, while holding off on others:

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will hold off on outfield signs, but give the Cubs the go-ahead Thursday to extend outward the right- and left-field walls of Wrigley Field, build a new western entrance, remodel the dug-out and build a new Captain Morgan Club.

I'm not sure why that article has the peculiar spelling of "dug-out", or why only one is mentioned, and the "new Captain Morgan Club" is what was sent out by the Cubs Wednesday, written about in this article.

And why is the Commission holding off?

Sources said the decision to postpone until a regularly-scheduled July 11 meeting a vote on the two most controversial elements of the Wrigley project–a 6,OOO sq.ft. video scoreboard in left-field and a 1,OOO sq.ft. see-through sign in right–is a concession to local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who is demanding major changes.

Oh, dear. What does Mr. Busybody Alderman want now?

In a letter to the Cubs Wednesday, Tunney delivered his demands. He wants: the jumbotron in left reduced to 4,OOO sq.ft.; the see-through sign in right no more than 6OO sq.ft.; no pedestrian bridge over Clark Street connecting the hotel the Cubs plan to build to the team’s new office building; no outdoor patio deck over Patterson St. and hotel "lobby activity" moved from Patterson to either Clark of Addison.

You know, some of this I agree with. As you know, I think the 6,000-square-foot size is too large for a video board; somewhere around 4,000 or 4,500 square feet might work just as well. I can't argue too much with Tunney's argument about the outdoor patio deck and "lobby activity" fronting Patterson Street, which is a one-block residential street between Clark and Racine. As Tunney was quoted in the Tribune:

... the alderman said he can't support a hotel outdoor patio above Patterson where guests could hang out. "Come on, people live 5O feet away from there," he said.

Now, here is a place where Tunney is actually representing the needs of his constituents, instead of simply the needs and desires of his top campaign contributors. If Tunney hadn't been so shrill about the rest of his "demands", perhaps a deal would have been struck by now. Instead, Tunney and the neighborhood groups have made "demands" instead of sitting down and hammering out an agreement in private that could have simply been announced as a done deal.

"Compromise" seems to be a dirty word these days, but in any deal the size of the Cubs' proposed $500 million renovation/hotel deal, there has to be some give-and-take on both sides. The Cubs still seem willing to talk, although there's also this, from the Tribune article:

In response to Tunney's letter, Cubs spokesman Julian Green reiterated the team's position that if the Ricketts family is to invest $3OO million in the restoration and modernization of Wrigley, plus another $2OO million for a hotel across the street, "all elements" of the sprawling plan must be in place. The three sides issued a framework agreement on ballpark restoration in April.

"Anything less significantly hampers our ability to make a $5OO million investment," Green said.

Seriously, all of this back-and-forth should have been done months ago, behind closed doors, and a final deal announced so that construction could start this offseason. At some point, I suspect Mayor Rahm Emanuel will drag all the parties behind said closed doors and get something done. It means too much economically to the city of Chicago, and too much to the Chicago Cubs, to not get it done.