Wrigley Field stands as one of the most historic parks in all of sports. Player and coach opinion have varied, from a favorite, to a less than glowing review. But one thing that wasn’t a secret was its condition. Issues with the foundation have been public knowledge, as the Cubs had to apply some structural “duct tape” in recent years. Following the purchase of the Cubs in 2009, the Ricketts’ family set forth on bringing Wrigley to an upgraded state. You may like to think that as an owner of a team and stadium, you would have the ability to do as you wish with your product. But that’s where the nuances of Wrigley Field start to stand out.
Not many professional teams share such an intimate relationship with their surrounding neighborhood. Wrigley is fully integrated into theirs. Wrigleyville, rooftops, catching a home run ball on Waveland or Sheffield. These are rare experiences that every baseball fan should take part in, Cub fan or not. But while to a fan these are nostalgic, never to forget experiences. To Tom Ricketts? An entirely different story.
As the Wrigley renovation project has gone through several changes and phases, the endgame has been the same. Make Wrigley a fully operational business to bring revenue and make the Chicago Cubs successful. This process has been a slow and convoluted one. City ordinances, rooftop owners, historical status, the list goes on. But as the season came to a close, it seemed that the hurdles were becoming fewer. Most clubs generate revenue by selling naming rights, erecting larger advertising, things of that nature. Wrigley is still Wrigley. And the few ads that were added to the outfield walls didn’t change the game drastically. It was a start.
Video boards, new clubhouse, access bridge to hotel, more night games. All these designed to bring Wrigley from a part of history, to the ability to MAKE history and generate a winner in Chicago. The Cubs went back and forth with the city. What can be done, what can’t. Finally an agreement was reached. It was time to obtain the permits and start the process of the $500 million dollar renovation.
Alderman Tom Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley, began to put pressure on the Cubs.
It’s time for them to build, like they said [they would] postseason. I’d expect permits to be there. … I would have hoped, at this point, that they would be doing the permits.
The biggest fear has been the possible legal action of rooftop owners should the Cubs move forward with the proposed video boards that essentially bankroll the renovation. Without that revenue it becomes a dicier situation. And Ricketts is less than excited to spend the money to begin construction if rooftop owners decide to take legal action and stall the project.
So why we all hoped to see some of the drastic changes talked about, in all likelihood the renovations that take place this off-season will be less than glamorous. Structural, electrical, under the radar improvements. Maybe not the start we expected, but a beginning nonetheless.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Wrigley won’t be renovated in one either. Stay tuned as we keep you posted on all the Wrigley renovation info.