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Saturday, July 13, 2013
Video board won't be ready for start of 2014

By Sahadev Sharma

CHICAGO -- Cubs vice president of communications and community affairs Julian Green indicated Saturday that a video board at Wrigley Field would not be ready for the start of the 2014 season.

On Thursday, the landmarks commission approved the large video board in left field and another sign in right field, but there are still hurdles to get over.

"At the end of the baseball season and first day of baseball there's roughly 22 weeks," Green said. "Even though we've gotten the approval from the landmarks commission, we still have to go through the planning commission, the zoning committee and full City Council approval. Once that's all said and done, we might be looking at late August or September. We have not selected a video company. We'll probably have to put a [request for information] and [request for proposal]. That takes probably a few months. And then we go through the design process."

Green said the Cubs would have to hire a production crew and productions staff and add cameras and other aspects to ensure the video board would run at its full capabilities. He said the video board was a priority, because many of the assets added in the renovation were to drive revenue and the amount generated from a video board would be significant.

The unanimous vote by the landmarks commission is a good start to the approval process, Green said, and despite having a lot of work to do, the Cubs have some strong momentum. He added that the Ricketts family's decision to pay for the $500 million renovation to Wrigley and the surrounding area itself was likely the turning point in earning the public's support.

While the news from the landmarks commission was positive for the Cubs, not everyone was thrilled with the decision. The rooftop owners, whose views may be affected by the addition of a video board and an outfield sign, still oppose the changes.

"From our position, we went through the expensive step of doing the mock-ups in right field and left field," Green said. "Originally we wanted a half-dozen signs in the outfield. We decided to go with two, the left-field video board and right-field sign. On top of that, last week we decided to shrink the video board and shrink the right-field sign significantly from 1,000 square feet to 650 square feet. We made accommodations all throughout this year, and we believe, with those compromises, these are still viable businesses. Is there some impact? Yes, we acknowledge there is some impact. But all along, we’ve tried to act with the best interest in terms of trying to help our rooftop partners to go forward.

"But at the end of the day, we're making decisions in the interest of our business. That's goal No. 1. Because at the end of the day, the fans are going to judge us. After we restore this beautiful ballpark, they're going to want to know how this is going to translate onto the field. And that's what we're doing."

As far as what will get started this offseason, Green said the No. 1 priority is the player facilities.

"We have this great facility in Mesa, Ariz., a $7 million facility in the Dominican Republic," Green said. "Through the player-development process, they have these beautiful facilities. Then they go down to the clubhouse [at Wrigley Field] and they have eight showerheads. We've got to make sure we do better for the players."

Despite some roadblocks in their sights, Green said he felt optimistic that the long process may be approaching a positive end. That means that any threat of leaving the friendly confines of Wrigley Field appear to be a thing of the past.

"We think we're in the red zone, but we still have some ways to go," he said. "So at the end of the day, while we are flattered that there are other municipalities that are interested in having the Cubs in their area, we believe that right here we've been getting some wind in our sails. Last Thursday was a significant accomplishment for us to continue this approach to make this $500 million investment. The Ricketts family, in their heart of hearts, they'd like to see Cubs baseball here. When we finally win that world championship, it happens right here at the corner of Addison and Clark."