Wrigleyville's alderman says a recent proposal by Chicago Cubs owners to pay for renovations at Wrigley Field by relaxing advertising restrictions and other rules at the landmark ballpark is just one of many ideas being floated to pay for the work.
But Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, did not rule out easing city landmark rules that make it difficult for the team to erect lucrative billboards, a key component in the proposal by team CEO Tom Ricketts to foot the bill for the entire $300 million rehab without going to taxpayers. The previous plan to tap public amusement tax revenue was greeted coolly by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"I think a lot of balloons are being floated," Tunney said Monday. "A lot of what they said has not been presented to the community."
He said Cubs officials would need to negotiate with the owners of rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley, who gave an icy reception Monday to the idea of new signs that could block their views.
"The rooftops are a fabric of the experience at Wrigley Field," Beth Murphy, a member of the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association and owner of the bar Murphy's Bleachers, said in a statement. "Any relaxation of the landmark ordinance that blocks our views violates our current 20-year contract with the Cubs and would jeopardize the tremendous economic contribution rooftops make to Chicago as businesses, taxpayers and members of the community."
The rooftop companies reached an agreement with the Cubs in 2004 that calls for the team not to block the views into the park from their establishments, where people pay to watch the North Siders play. In exchange, the rooftop owners pay the team 17 percent of their proceeds, payments that now average $3.5 million a year, according to the rooftop group.
The Ricketts family's offer to pay to fix up Wrigley in exchange for the ability to put up advertisements in the bleachers could jump-start the debate with the owners of those buildings.
Alderman open to easing Cubs' billboard rules
Chicago Tribune | Jan 22