In an effort to gain a massive federal tax break, the Chicago Cubs brought their updated Wrigley Field renovation proposal to the Chicago Landmarks Commission on Thursday, receiving the OK, albeit with a warning over potential tactics with the nearby rooftops.
The chairman of the commission, Jim Houlihan, warned the organization over any “bullying tactics” that could be employed against the rooftop owners as the massive $500-plus project continues in the next several years.
"“It would be unfortunate if there were bullying tactics being used. And it would be a long-term mistake for the Cubs. The Cubs success is, in great part, its relationship to that neighborhood,” he told those in attendance, including the Chicago Sun-Times."
The changes, which will allow the Cubs to receive a $75 million federal tax credit, include eliminating a 650-square foot sign in left field, reducing the scale of the 2,400-square foot right-field video board to 2,220-square feet, moving the left field video board 30 feet closer to the center field scoreboard and swapping the locations of a video board and a 650-square foot script sign in right field.
One of the biggest pieces of news to come out of the meeting included a potential rebuilding of portions of the iconic ivy-covered brick outfield walls, a topic that took up a major portion of Thursday’s meeting.
"“We’ll together document it, make a judgment about what you can save and what you can’t save. The stuff that can’t be saved, we’ll take down and repair. The stuff we can, we’ll save and re-use. But we’ll do it in the field rather than wait to report to the commission,” said a Cubs official who asked to remain anonymous."
As for the ivy itself, the Cubs have actually started growing replacement ivy in a greenhouse if it is needed, but have made plans to utilize the existing ivy – which appears to be the organization’s primary plan given the significance of that specific ivy in team lore.
The crumbling walls were discovered after the existing bleachers were demolished and the deterioration was uncovered.
"“This underscores how delicate, how intricate this process is, but we knew this going in. We would have to be flexible having both a city agency and a federal agency having oversight. And we understand we’re going to have to come back here early and often,” Cubs spokesperson Julian Green said."
Changes to the plan were prepared once the National Park Service voiced their concerns about the amount of new signage earlier this summer. The number of bleacher seats were also reduced with the installation of a pair of elevators – one in each left and right field.