The owners of the Cubs may have just learned the hard way not to alienate Rahm Emanuel.
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The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, has delayed the presentation of a proposed plan to renovate Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, originally scheduled to be held in front of the city’s Landmarks Commission next week. The mayor says that the plan needs further study.
He said, “This recent submission is not ready for next week. They have work to do”.
On Tuesday, the Cubs revealed a revised $575 million plan to renovate the landmark stadium. But Emanuel was annoyed that the team did not keep him and the city in the loop.
On Wednesday the Chicago Mayor complained that the plans had additions never seen before. He was particularly bothered by a proposal to create more space for seats by moving the bullpens from foul territory to an area beneath the bleachers. The problem here is that such a move could alter the famous ivy covered historic outfield walls considered to be both a local and a national treasure.
If Rahm Emanuel has proven anything in his political career it is that he is the man in charge and will not tolerate being kept out of the loop. In a complaint to the team Emanuel said, “You dropped the ball in clearly communicating the latest version of a Wrigley Field renovation, and my administration won’t be rushed into approving more electronic advertising signs and another video board for the historic stadium.”
He is happy to celebrate the remodeling of Wrigley, especially since it is to be done without public funds, but does not want to give the appearance of being pressured by the Cubs. The Mayor has already granted the team many of its requests.
The plan also calls for five more new advertising billboards, in addition to the two already agreed on, including some that would block the view from the rooftops of nearby building. In the 1990s, owners of buildings behind Wrigley field added their own rooftop bleachers to sell tickets to watch Cubs games. The rooftop owners currently have a 20-year revenue-sharing contract with the Cubs that ends after the 2023 season. Now the owners of these venues are threatening to sue the Cubs if the stadium’s additions block their view of games.
The Cubs, for their part, are willing to deal with any complaints about the bullpen doors or the bullpen relocation and want to begin construction as soon as possible. The Team’s chairman, Tom Ricketts, would like to get started on the work next month, but the Landmarks Commission does not meet again until July.
In response to the Mayor’s concerns, Cubs team spokesman Julian Green said, “We are happy to address any questions about the bullpen doors or the bullpen relocation. The Cubs look forward to resolving these last few issues so we can begin construction as soon as possible.”
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field was renamed for the owner of the Cubs in the 1920s, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. It is one of the two oldest ballparks in Major League Baseball, along with Boston’s Fenway Park. While many teams have played there, today only the Chicago Clubs baseball team calls it home.
The Cubs currently have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Interestingly, the Cubs have not won a world championship since before they moved into Wrigley, 100 years ago.