The Ricketts family has been angling to fix aging Wrigley Field since buying the Cubs in 2009, only to see plan after plan of how to pay for improvements fail amid political considerations and public relations gaffes.
Now after months of behind-the-scenes talks between team officials and City Hall, the latest plan to spend $300 million repairing the historic ballpark emerged this week, creating a sense of momentum even as competing interests continue to try to wring out the best deal.
The Ricketts family wants new advertising signs, more night games and concerts and permission to hold street fairs around the park to raise the money to pay for the rehab themselves. Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants no taxpayer money involved. Rooftop club owners don't want anything that would block their views and ruin a 20-year deal struck with the team. The local alderman and residents want to preserve quality of life.
Sources close to the negotiations say there could be something for everyone in the plan, but concessions will have to be made to get over the hump.
The talks have placed Emanuel in the role of a deal broker. The mayor is putting the pressure on publicly, saying this week he's "asked all the parties involved to finish this up." For Emanuel, getting a Wrigley renovation done, especially without tax money, would be a major coup two years into his tenure. Not only would it further burnish his image as a mayor rebuilding the city, Emanuel will have accomplished what his predecessor could not.
To that end, Emanuel is prodding all parties to move quickly, said a source in the mayor's office. Emanuel believes there's a good shot at bringing all sides together and thinks 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney can play a key role in making that happen, the source said.
Emanuel also is hoping he doesn't have to take a more aggressive stance and can avoid pushing through a deal that doesn't have the backing of all interest groups, the source added.
New signs are a sticking point. Tunney has come out against more advertising signs if they block views from neighboring rooftops. Owners of the rooftop businesses, who share a portion of their ticket sales with the club, are afraid the Cubs' new plan will put them out of business.
Can Wrigley deal get done?
Chicago Tribune | Jan 25