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Landmarks Commission Approves Wrigley Marquee Changes

The famous Wrigley marquee will look different when it returns.

The Wrigley Field marquee when it was removed for restoration, November 2, 2015
The Wrigley Field marquee when it was removed for restoration, November 2, 2015
David Sameshima

Last fall, the marquee above the main entrance at Wrigley Field was removed for repair and repainting.

When it returns, there will be changes, according to Danny Ecker of Crain's:

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks today is expected to approve a series of cosmetic and operational changes to the sign, which is one of a handful of Wrigley Field elements protected under the city of Chicago's landmark ordinance that governs the ballpark.

Most notable among the changes will be the replacement of the LED digital sign on the bottom portion of the marquee, which typically cycles through different messaging.

The LED portion of the sign, which was installed in 1983, must be replaced and upgraded "to match the existing in size and general appearance," the landmarks commission staff will recommend.

The existing paint -- 24 layers' worth! -- will be removed and the sign will be completely repainted, and there will be a new LED sign to replace the one removed. That's a good thing, as the sign that was removed often had many of its LED lights missing or not functional, as you saw in many of David Sameshima's photo updates. Here's the key to why the Landmarks Commission has to weigh in on this:

Alterations to Wrigley's landmark features require the approval of not only the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The Cubs also need to stay within the guidelines put forth by the National Park Service to earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. That's a prerequisite for winning a federal tax credit the team is seeking—said to be worth $75 million—for preserving a historic landmark.

Whether the team qualifies for the tax credit won't be determined until the stadium renovation is complete, which could be in 2018 or 2019.

That $75 million credit is important to the Cubs in financing the renovation project, so you see why they have to be very careful to preserve the existing look. Here are a couple of photos that Danny Ecker tweeted from Thursday's hearing:

Then there's this somewhat ominous tweet:

Apparently, the commission wants the new sign to have content similar to the old one -- as you see in the tweet above, not too much "dynamic" video. Presumably, if it's a similar-sized sign, it won't. Ecker's article indicates that the Landmarks Commission is "expected" to approve the changes. As always, we await developments.

UPDATE: Just after I posted this, it was approved: