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The Cubs move ahead with plans for a Wrigley Field sportsbook

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It’s going before the Chicago City Council Thursday.

Gensler

Last September, the Cubs unveiled plans to partner with DraftKings for a sportsbook in the neighborhood around Wrigley Field, and last month it was revealed that the team was moving forward with those plans, which require approval by the Chicago City Council.

Today, Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the team will make a presentation to the Council Thursday:

The team is slated to go before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks today to present its plans for a 22,350-square-foot structure that would be developed along the southeast corner of the stadium at Sheffield Avenue and Addison Street, team plans show.

It’s a key step toward building the future DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field—part of a sponsorship deal the team struck last year with Boston-based DraftKings—and stands to make gambling an integral part of game day at the Friendly Confines.

But there are significant hurdles to clear: In addition to winning approval from the landmarks panel, the team needs the City Council to sign off not only on the development itself but also pass an ordinance that would allow sports betting inside the city’s major stadiums.

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) introduced such an ordinance last month, but the proposal was sent to the Council’s Rules Committee, which could stall its consideration. The ordinance isn’t without controversy, as some aldermen are concerned that sportsbooks at pro sports venues including Wrigley Field and the United Center could cannibalize spending at a future Chicago casino, something the city is counting on as a vital new revenue source.

In addition, the team would possibly have to get approval from Major League Baseball to have a sportsbook inside the ballpark, per this ESPN article from September 2020:

Major League Baseball prohibits any club owner who has a material stake in a sportsbook from having an active role in the company’s management. If the Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, were to take a material stake in the DraftKings’ sportsbook at Wrigley Field, MLB could place restrictions on which bets could be taken. If Cubs ownership remains independent from the sportsbook, the restrictions on which bets could be taken would not apply.

I have previously posted this rendering of a possible addition to Wrigley Field, which was sent out back in 2013 as part of a set of renderings:

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

Based on new renderings sent out by Gensler, a Chicago architectural firm, that’s very close to what could actually be built on the corner of Addison and Sheffield:

Gensler
Gensler
Gensler

Here is the time frame for opening such a sportsbook, per Ecker’s article:

The team said last fall it aimed to open the sportsbook by the end of 2022, though the timeline hinges on winning the necessary approvals. The facility would take roughly a year to build, according to a team spokesman.

Another note of significance for this proposed sportsbook:

Though connected to the ballpark, the sportsbook addition would be open to patrons regardless of whether they have a ticket to see a Cubs game. Major League Baseball rules prohibit a sportsbook operating where a game ticket is required for entry.

The Cubs and other MLB teams are clearly looking at gambling as their next new revenue source. Whether this is good for the sport as a whole or not remains to be seen. As always, we await developments.