A rendering of the proposed Wrigley Field complex.
(Graphics courtesy WrigleyField.com)
By Kenny Reiter
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014
The Chicago Landmarks Commission unanimously approved updated plans today to renovate Wrigley Field over the next five years.
Commission Director Eleanor Gorski began the presentation on the changes to the 100-year-old ballpark, explaining the need for these projects to go before the commission. It was the second time in a year that Wrigley has gone before the Landmarks Commission, as the Cubs updated plans to move the bullpen to under the outfield bleachers and add more signage to the outfield, which would block views from nearby rooftops.
“This is the same for any Chicago landmark,” Gorski said. “Any Chicago landmark would go through this process, though not to as much that’s for damn sure.”
Joking aside, the renovation will be a large undertaking. The proposal included seven new projects: five additional outfield signs, two light standard towers, a second-level bleacher deck in right and left field, five new suites, moving the brick wall out to accommodate new rows of seating and moving the bleacher entrance gate and second-level deck at Waveland and Sheffield Avenues closer toward the street.
In addition to new projects, the proposal also included revisions to previously approved projects, most notably reducing the size the LED scoreboard from 4,560 to 3,990 square feet.
Cubs President Crane Kenney was eager to get started on the renovations.
“In short, we’re ready to go,” he said. “We said after last year’s last year's hearing we would not move forward if there was litigation, but we cannot wait any longer.”
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) did not share Kenney’s zeal for starting the project. Tunney requested that the commission vote no or defer the decision to a later time when the community has had some time to review and assess the proposal. Tunney most recently encouraged the community to get involved through his Facebook account by asking his neighbors to voice their opinions at a Monday night meeting. Tunney’s request for deferral was denied.
One issue, which brought up some debate, was the signage. Kenney said that
Wrigley Field is at a disadvantage when it comes to revenue from signage, and that most every major league ballpark will still have more signs in their outfields than Wrigley Field even after the renovation. Kenney assured the commission that the signage would be facing inward, and outward facing light would not be a factor and upset neighbors.
Photo: This new rendering shows the bullpens under the bleachers and how the scoreboard in right field may block views from rooftops, a point of contention between the rooftop owners and the Cubs.
Tunney disagreed, saying he receives lighting complaints from the neighborhood already, and that Wrigley, as a neighborhood ballpark, is much different than other parks such as Fenway Park in Boston.
“I will not support a proposal that so dramatically affects the quality of the life of the residents,” Tunney said. “And [a proposal] that I believe violates the landmark status of the ballpark.”
Before the vote, the landmark commission opened up the floor to the public. Aside from a few in favor of the proposal, including a very colorful and enthusiastic Cubs fan claiming that the renovations will help the team to win a World Series, most of the community opposed it, citing reasons from parking to the migratory patterns of geese.
Although the majority of the public attending, and a representative of the rooftop owners, spoke against the proposal, the landmark commission voted in favor.
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