Wrigley Field gets final approval for $500M renovation
UPDATE: Chicago’s City Council approved a $500 million renovation of the Cubs’ Wrigley Field on Wednesday, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The upgrades will include a 5,700-square-foot electronic Jumbotron, improved facilities for the 99-year-old park and a hotel across the street. The Jumbotron, which will be located in left field above the ivy-covered walls, will be approximately three times the size of the manual scoreboard currently situated in center field.
The team, which was bought by the Ricketts family in 2009, had initially sought funding for the project from the public but after that plan failed, the front office decided that the franchise would fund the entire renovation on its own. An additional large advertising sign to be placed in left field will help generate revenue to pay for the project, according to the report. On Tuesday, a day before the city council cast the final vote, Chicago’s zoning board had also approved the $500 million plan. The proposal has also had the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel since he took office in 2011 after serving as White House Chief of Staff.
One point of contention that arose during proposal talks concerned the owners of nearby rooftops, who have a contract with the Cubs that pays them part of the team’s revenue. They are threatening to file a lawsuit against the team if the giant Jumbotron or advertising billboard, or anything else, obstructs their view. According to the AP report, public hearings about the proposed renovations and how to best attract a young fan base had become so heated at times that the team’s chairman, Tom Ricketts, had “floated the idea” of moving the Cubs to a different city if it meant being able to secure the kind of amenities he needs to compete with other clubs.