The Wrigley Field renovation project has been stalled for over a year while rooftop owners fire off lawsuit-threatening press releases, and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has said he didn't want to start the project until the rooftop owners assured him they wouldn't sue.
Thursday morning, the Cubs released this video featuring Ricketts making pretty definitive statements about starting the project now. Go ahead and watch it and then I'll have my thoughts on all of this.
In addition to what's in the video, there's a bit more detail in this Tribune article about Ricketts' plans:
To that end, he plans to submit a revised proposal to City Hall that would feature more large electronic signs, additional seats, bigger clubhouses and a relocation of the quaint bullpens from foul territory to a spot under the bleachers by removing bricks and some of the iconic ivy and covering the space with a material that would allow relievers to see onto the field, according to a high-ranking Cubs source. If approved against what's sure to be fierce opposition, the changes would put more pressure on the rooftop club owners to reach a deal with the Ricketts family, as team officials acknowledged that more signs could further block rooftop views into Wrigley.
I haven't yet seen any of the revised proposals referred to in the article, though Ricketts talks about at least one of them in the video (expanded clubhouses with batting cages). Moving the bullpens under the bleachers is actually an intriguing idea, though how much bricks and ivy would have to be removed to do so is an open question.
However, Ricketts is absolutely right in his statement that provides the headline to this article. It's most certainly time to move forward with this project. The Cubs had their plans approved by the Chicago city council almost a year ago. They had hoped to start construction after the 2013 season ended, with the project taking up to five offseasons. When that didn't happen, Ricketts and the Cubs said they could probably compress it into four offseasons.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me: "We've been extremely reasonable and patient, but we're not prepared to lose another year and jeopardize delivering on the promises we made to our players, fans, partners and neighbors. We now plan to move forward with the project and are submitting a revised expansion plan to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which will generate a significant amount of resources - without taxpayer dollars -- to achieve our goals of Winning a World Series, Preserving Wrigley Field and Being a Good Neighbor."
So now is the time to go forward. It's time for the rooftop owners to stop their aggressive tactics and make a deal with the Cubs. Presumably, once this new deal is reached, construction could begin at the end of the 2014 season.
It really is time.