In a somewhat surprising move, when both the Chicago Cubs and the rooftop club owners had been silent for a while, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released a video this morning stating it was time to get going with renovations to Wrigley Field.
In the video Ricketts shows what Wrigley Field currently offers players and how Wrigley is inferior to all the other ballparks in terms of player amenities, while the new complexes in Mesa, Arizona, and the Dominican Republic are among the best in the major leagues.
Ricketts says in the video, “We have to put the team and the fans first. So today we are asking the City of Chicago to approve a revised expansion plan that includes our original proposal to add several signs and a revised seating configuration in the outfield. If approved, we are prepared to get construction started.”
Aside from being a “tremendous source of revenue to help fund other parts of the restoration, “ the revised expansion plan includes “additional seating and open spaces in the Budweiser Bleachers, new group terraces in right and left field, enclosed hospitality areas and new outfield lighting. The overall capacity of the ballpark will not increase from the number of fans we can accommodate today,” Ricketts says.
The rooftop owners were quick to again threaten a lawsuit against the Cubs. Alderman Tom Tunney, alderman for the ward in which Wrigley is located, put out a statement early this afternoon expressing his disappointment in the Cubs, saying he was opposed to anything more than what was passed by the Chicago City Council last summer. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Cubs fan, had his office issue a statement saying he was open to looking at the new proposal.
In his video, Ricketts did not mince words, blaming the rooftop owners for not being able to start expansion and renovation sooner. Until today, Ricketts had said no work would be done to Wrigley Field until and unless he had assurances from the rooftop owners that they would not sue the Cubs. Ricketts has tried to work with the rooftop club owners, putting mock signage up in right field and a mock video board in left field. He went atop several rooftops to see for himself how much a video board and sign would block rooftop views. However, in the video it appears that Ricketts has had enough and wants to get rolling with the renovations, making very clear that he is not asking for any taxpayer, city or state money.
Fan reaction has been mixed. Some say that it’s time to move on and stop using the rooftops as an excuse, stating that the increased signage will bring in more revenue not only for more renovations but also for players. Others do not want anything new done to Wrigley, or suggest moving elsewhere.
It is obvious the Ricketts are not going to please everyone. As the third largest tourist attraction in Illinois, the old ballpark needs work so it can be around for future tourists and new generations of Cubs fans.