Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field

Ricketts on Wrigley: Time to move forward

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
6:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – One day after the Chicago Cubs received approval for their revised plans to renovate Wrigley Field, chairman Tom Ricketts described an upbeat feeling at the corner of Clark and Addison streets.

“Obviously, it’s very important for us to get those approvals to move forward,” Ricketts said Friday before the Cubs took on the Atlanta Braves. “We’re excited to begin the renovation process as opposed to the political process.”

On Sheffield and Waveland – addresses to the rooftop owners – there probably wasn’t much celebrating. The revised renovation plan includes five more outfield signs to be erected along with the two that were approved last year, that figure to block sightlines from across the street.

With the threat of eventual legal action still hanging in the air, Ricketts was asked if the team has reached out to the rooftop owners, who charge people to watch games and then return 17 percent of revenues back to the Cubs.

“Obviously the hearing was just yesterday,” Ricketts said. “We’ll reach out and talk to everybody. We’re confident there will be a solution that works.”

If there is any animosity from the Cubs side toward the rooftop owners, Ricketts wasn’t about to reveal it one day after scoring a major political victory.

“Obviously it’s been a long process,” he said. “We’re just glad that it’s behind us. I’m not worried about anything that happened in the past. We’re just going to go forward. As I’ve said, we’re just looking forward to moving forward.”

There remains no scheduled groundbreaking date on the project that could run over the $375 million mark, with an additional $200 million in related construction costs.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously approved the revised plans. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to work with the Cubs and the rooftop owners to avoid litigation. The 20-year contract that allows the rooftop owners to charge people to watch Cubs games still has another 10 years on it.

“I was confident that everyone has an incentive to work together to save Wrigley Field,” Ricketts said. “Obviously we’ve always had a very long-term perspective, so a lot of short-term setbacks or friction in the process, we just kept in perspective and tried to take the high road and keep moving forward. I think we’re in a good spot now. We’re looking forward to getting things rolling.”

The project is expected to take four years once it is started, with some reports that the historic bleachers might be knocked down and replaced by a newer version with modern amenities. Rickets would not confirm that a razing of the bleachers was on the agenda.
“I don’t really know how the construction process works well enough to go into that,” Ricketts said. “… It’s a four year project. I’m not sure about all the final sequencing of everything, and not sure exactly how you start in October and finish in April.”

While the renovation plan isn’t on-field related, the on-again-off-again nature of the subject managed to creep into the clubhouse.

“I think just in general, just to have the approval to move forward is a big thing for the Cubs, for us,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I know it's been in the making for a long time. I'm just here for the first year, so I know it's kind of been worked through.

“If that's one less thing for us to think about, it's good for all of us. We keep moving forward and put the ballpark in a better position, and hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Cubs await chance to pitch Wrigley plan

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
3:53
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are ready to start their long-awaited Wrigley Field renovations, but they're respectfully putting the onus back on the city for approval to get started.

While the Cubs introduced their new radio partner at Wrigley Field, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks met at City Hall without the revised Wrigley Field plans on its agenda.

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel halted the Cubs' newest plans to renovate Wrigley Field because the city didn't know about the changes the Cubs were making to the ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield, which are landmark-protected.

Now the Cubs find themselves waiting for a new hearing with the landmarks commission.

"At this point, the calendar is up to the city of Chicago," Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green said. "The next scheduled meeting could be in July. There are circumstances for special meetings. Again, but I certainly won't speculate on a date, because the city of Chicago is in control of the calendar.

"We're ready, the revised package is done. We've communicated that we're ready to take the bullpen doors [off the table]. I want to make that clear. There's been some confusion about the bullpen doors and the location of the bullpen. We're prepared to take the bullpen doors off the table for the landmarks."

Yes, a $575 million project is on hold because of a miscommunicated plan to double the size of landmark-protected outfield doors to allow Cubs relievers a better view of the deal. You can't make this stuff up.

In the Cubs' revised plan, released almost two weeks ago, they would add seats in the bleachers, additional outfield signs and a smaller videoboard to go with the previously approved videoboard and outfield sign. The plan also included an expanded clubhouse and moving the bullpens from foul territory to underneath the bleachers.

But those darn bullpen doors are said to be the problem, which is why the Cubs are fine ditching that part of the deal.

"As far as we heard, that was a sticking point for the commission," Green said. "We are prepared to keep the outfield doors just the way they are so we can move forward. Obviously, we can revisit some of those things later."

The Cubs maintain, again respectfully, that they told the city they were moving the bullpens and expanding the green doors, which currently have Under Armour ads on them, which would take away some space for landmark-protected ivy to grow.

"As I stated last week, the belief was is that they weren't called out," Green said. "I also share there were documents shared with the city. But if the city believes they weren't highlighted enough or we didn't do a good enough job in terms of calling it out or pointing it out, we absolutely bear the responsibility for that. Having said that, like we said, if the landmark commission has a problem with bullpen doors widening, doubling or tripling, we're willing to take that off the table."

The Cubs had planned to break ground on a new, expanded clubhouse in July by digging underneath the parking lot that abuts Clark Street and Waveland Avenue, but for now, that plan is on hold.

"We want to get our approvals first before we start construction," Green said. "That would be the plan."

Photos: Wrigley Field renovation plan

May, 27, 2014
May 27
2:59
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
[+] EnlargeSheffield Bleachers
Courtesy Chicago CubsThe bullpens would move from the field to underneath the bleachers.
[+] EnlargeUpper Clubhouse
Courtesy Chicago CubsA 30,000 square-foot expanded clubhouse would be located beneath the new outdoor plaza.
[+] EnlargeWrigley Paroramic
Courtesy Chicago CubsThe expanded outfield view, including lights in the left and right field corners lights that the Cubs claim will reduce shadows by allowing fly balls to be lit from both front and back.
[+] EnlargeAuditorium Interview
Courtesy Chicago CubsThe proposed auditorium at Wrigley Field.
[+] Enlarge3rd Base Club
Courtesy Chicago CubsThe 3rd Base Club


Enjoy classic Wrigley before changes begin

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
8:40
AM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Wrigley Field Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsWrigley Field could look and feel a lot different by Opening Day 2015.
Cherish this moment, Cubs fans.

Yes, your team stinks. No, it's not going to win more than 70-something games this year. Yes, tickets are overpriced.

If you're a die-hard, you'll be glued to Twitter feeds and MILB.com and any morsel of news you can get out of Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona or Kane County.

SportsNation

What's your favorite thing about Wrigley Field?

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    45%
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    15%
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Discuss (Total votes: 2,229)

Younger players are coming. Modernity at the ballpark is coming. A video board as big as Antonio Alfonseca's "deadly belly" is coming, likely in 2015.

More private clubs. More premium.

Outside of Wrigley, there will be a boutique hotel. A boutique hotel! Tens of thousands of square feet of advertising. Clutter. Money.

More of everything is coming. And that's not a bad thing. The world moves on. Wrigley needs the renovation. It needed it years ago. Decades ago, even.

But this is the calm before the storm. It's the time to enjoy Wrigley Field before the changes really begin.

The Ricketts family can market your nostalgia, sell it piece by piece. But it's still the people's ballpark.

Right now, it's still relatively -- almost foolishly -- unscathed. It's still charmingly authentic, a good crummy. Chicago crummy.

Walk around a little. Get there early. Put your phone away.

Listen. Watch. Drink. Tip your vendor. Repeat.

The upside about the team's lousiness? There will be plenty of seats available. Plenty of room to kick back and enjoy the only park not dominated by commercials, replays and noise, for another year, at least.

Yes, even during the 100th anniversary celebration, goofily marketed as "The Party of the Century." Even with the arrival of Clark the Cub, the so-called ambassador of the youth.

Clark is a fine mascot, I'm sure, but the whole notion that he'll attract young fans is nonsense. Chicagoans know how you make a Cubs fan. You bring kids to the park. You buy them giant pretzels and hats and point out players. Walking them up to the park, the grandness of a stadium in a city block, is enough.

And the most real way you make young fans is to put a winner on the field. I got my son interested in my hometown team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, last season. As they won, for the first time since I was in middle school, we enjoyed the Pirates together. In September, he walked around the Strip District in Pittsburgh, telling vendors to "raise the Jolly Roger."

My wife, like tens of thousands of her peers, became a Cubs fan because of the 1984 team. Jody Davis is still her favorite player.

The Cubs could use some new young fans. Some old ones, too.

[+] EnlargeClark
AP Photo/Courtesy of the Chicago Cubs, Steve GreenThere's at least one change at Wrigley that you can see right away -- new mascot Clark the Cub.
They lost 240,000 fans in paid attendance from a 101-loss season in 2012 to a 96-loss season in 2013. Empty seats are the norm for much of the season.

The addition of Mike Olt, exciting as it might be, won't bring them back. Javier Baez, if he comes up as expected this summer, will cause a minor stir. And then one by one, two by two, the Cubs will see talent trickle in and fans will rededicate themselves to the major league team.

But until then, Wrigley remains the draw.

I laughed at the rumors of the Cubs moving to the suburbs. So did executives at other teams. Every team that builds a new stadium tries to re-create Wrigleyville. (See Ballpark Village, St. Louis.) But it can't be done. Given the quality of some of the new bars around Wrigley, perhaps it shouldn't be.

But enough of the old school remains. And when the Cubs are good, the vitality of the neighborhood could light the park.

If you're in from out of town, thanks for your amusement tax dollars.

If you're from Chicago, treat yourself to a few games, especially if you can get tickets for free from sad-sack season-ticket holders.

And make sure you look around once in a while. Because, as a famous fictional Cubs fan once said, "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

No Bud sign, but Weber to debut for opener

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
4:33
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- When the Chicago Cubs kick off the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field celebration Friday, they'll do so without a giant Budweiser sign in the outfield.

The much-debated Bud sign won't be up for Opening Day, the Cubs confirmed to ESPN Chicago. The sign, and the planned videoboard in left field, have been at the forefront of the year-plus squabbling with the rooftop owners, who have a contract to protect their views. The Cubs had intimated the Budweiser sign, part of a new 10-year, $140 million exclusive marketing deal, will be up this season.

Instead, the Cubs will debut a much smaller outfield wall sign.

The Cubs inked a new multiyear partnership with Weber and the Chicago-based grill manufacturer is getting ad placement on a small outfield door. Joining Target and Under Armour, there will be a white silhouette of Weber's signature round grill mixed in the iconic ivy-covered wall.

"We think it's a company that's synonymous with baseball, the summer, drinking beer, and it's a local Chicago-based company," Cubs vice president of sales and partnerships Colin Faulkner said.

(Read full post)

Old Style's run at Wrigley likely to continue

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
1:41
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Change can be a dirty word for some at Wrigley Field.

Video boards, giant Budweiser signs, Clark the Cub, losing on purpose.

It can get a little dizzying.

But loyal Old Style fans can belch a sigh of relief. Some things do stay the same.

Despite what you heard, the iconic Chicago beer was never completely exiled at the Friendly Confines. It'll likely just be harder to find in 2014.

Old Style, once synonymous with day baseball at Clark and Addison, will still be sold at Wrigley Field this season, according to tweets from two SportsBusiness Journal reporters Monday.

SBJ facilities reporter Don Muret (@breakground) wrote the Cubs confirmed that their concessionaire Levy Restaurants will still carry the beer. The Cubs would not confirm this confirmation.

"We have yet to announce our food and beverage lineup for the season at Wrigley Field," Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green wrote in an email.

(Read full post)

As spring home opens, Wrigley fixes wait

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
5:03
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


MESA, Ariz. -- It's hard to marvel at the Chicago Cubs' new spring training facility without thinking about the stall in the long-awaited renovation of Wrigley Field.

Almost 2,000 miles away from where the Cubs play during the season -- under bright and warm sunny skies -- the team and community cut the ribbon on their state-of-the-art new spring home on Tuesday. The huge complex lives up to its hype.

"We have something special," Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a morning ceremony attended by the governor of Arizona, the mayor of Mesa and Cubs ownership. "No more excuses. If we can't get better here we can't get better anywhere."

[+] EnlargeRicketts
AP Photo/Matt YorkCubs owner Tom Ricketts discusses the team's new spring training complex Wednesday in Mesa.
Getting better in February and March is important, but not as important as where the players perform from April through September. By Epstein's thinking, the Cubs still have "excuses," considering the renovation of Wrigley Field has yet to begin. Part of that project includes better facilities for the players.

"We're talking," owner Tom Ricketts said Tuesday after the ceremony. "We're looking at different ideas. Everyone has incentive to get this done and hopefully at some point here we'll have a solution that works."

It's the same statement he's been making all along, except he expressed more optimism at the Cubs Convention last month. A meeting with rooftop owners days later killed that optimism but talks are ongoing. The deal comes down to one thing: the placement of the video board in left field.

"Look at this place here," Ricketts said, pointing to his new stadium in Mesa. "When people work together and they really focus on what they can accomplish together, you see great results."

That was said with an obvious nod to the problems in Chicago. Ricketts, with the help of Mesa mayor Scott Smith, deflected any other conversation away from Wrigley Field. He has good reason because the new spring home in Mesa is a complex unlike any other in the Cactus or Grapefruit league. The Cubs should be proud of it.

"Our facilities are the best in the game," Ricketts said.

He's probably right. The irony is, it only magnifies the Wrigley Field issues even more.

Reports: Cubs apply for permit for sign

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
3:46
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
The Chicago Cubs have applied for a permit to construct a large advertising sign behind the Wrigley Field right field bleachers, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

The Cubs’ permit request for the sign, which would alter the view from the nearby rooftops, came less than a week after negotiations broke down between the Cubs and the neighborhood rooftop owners about the team’s planned renovations to Wrigley Field.

The rooftop owners, who have said all along they would pursue legal action against the team should the views into the park from their buildings be altered, said they have begun that process.

"This is an unfortunate turn of events because our hope was to find a solution to this matter," said Ryan McLaughlin of the Wrigleyville Rooftops Association. "Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs. We have instructed our legal team to proceed accordingly."

The Cubs and rooftop owners disagree on the size and location of both the right field sign and of a new video scoreboard to be installed in left field for the 2015 season.

The ongoing battle has delayed the renovation project of Wrigley, which was scheduled to begin after last season, although the sides appeared to be making progress towards a resolution last week. But the momentum stalled, and then the rooftop owners filed a defamation lawsuit against sports consultant Marc Ganis for comments he made last January, and also named the Cubs as a respondent in that lawsuit.

The sides entered into a 20-year agreement in 2004 in which the rooftop owners pay the Cubs 17 percent of the team's yearly profits in exchange for unobstructed views into the ballpark. The Cubs dispute that notion, however, contending the unobstructed views were guaranteed through the landmarking of the bleachers not with the agreement they have with the rooftop owners. The city removed the landmark status last summer, opening the door to a renovation.

Cubs hold the line on season ticket prices

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
1:15
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- After a 96-loss season, the Chicago Cubs are not raising season-ticket prices for the 2014 season.

It's the third year in a row the Cubs aren't raising overall ticket prices under the Ricketts family ownership. The Cubs raised prices before the Ricketts family's first season in 2010.

"We're not increasing anyone's invoice for 2014," Colin Faulkner, the Cubs' vice president for sales and partnerships, said in a phone conversation Monday.

According to Team Marketing Report's 2013 Fan Cost Index, the average Cubs season ticket was $44.55, down 3.8 percent. That was still the third-highest price in baseball. That average doesn't include the premium club box seats, according to the FCI's methodology.

(Read full post)

Cubs to build mock-up sign for renovation

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
4:51
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Cubs will build a short-term mock-up sign that will go up in right field to simulate what rooftop owners will look through when the renovation of Wrigley Field is completed in 2018.

The Cubs are hoping to work with their rooftop partners and Alderman Tom Tunney in hopes of avoiding long litigation that could hold up the start of the five-year project. A Cubs source confirmed that the team's ownership will not begin the laborious task of renovating the 100-year old park without a clear legal path to the finish line of work.

Read the entire story.

The night Wrigley Field lit up

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
11:42
AM CT
Caple By Jim Caple
ESPNChicago.com
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Twenty-five years ago Thursday -- and a mere century after Thomas Edison developed the lightbulb -- lights finally went on at Wrigley Field for the first scheduled major league night game in the ballpark's long history.

Rick Sutcliffe, the Cubs' starting pitcher on Aug. 8, 1988, calls that night: "Easily the biggest event I was ever part of. I pitched a lot of opening days. They were all special. They all meant a lot. There was never an empty seat. But the thing about opening night, we knew -- or we thought -- there was never going to be another one."

Read the entire story.

City approves $500M Wrigley renovation

July, 24, 2013
7/24/13
12:44
PM CT
By Associated Press
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago's City Council has approved a $500 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field, including a Jumbotron above the ivy-covered left-field wall.

Read the entire story.

Five things to watch in Cubs' second half

July, 17, 2013
7/17/13
1:14
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Starlin CastroAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastCan Starlin Castro salvage what has been a disappointing 2013 season with a big second half?
At 42-51, and in the middle of selling season, we know the second half of 2013 for the Chicago Cubs isn't necessarily about wins and losses.

We'll know by the end of the month what their roster will look like going forward -- and even then they might make some August deals. So instead of predicting a second half record, we'll keep our eyes on other things.

Here are five things to look for in the second half:

1. Core guys: The second half will determine if some of the Cubs main guys will have taken the next step or are still stuck in neutral. At the head of that list is Starlin Castro. Unlike Anthony Rizzo, this isn’t Castro's first full year in the big leagues so advancement was expected. He finished the first half on a high note with hits in seven of eight games but his overall batting average (.243) tell his story. His on-base percentage will never be great unless he’s hitting for a high average. Some of his past problems are still there -- and that’s startling. Rizzo is starting to find his groove again as well but it’s yet to be determined if he’ll be a power guy with a high average or if he’ll simply be a home run hitter with high strikeout totals. He’s on pace for about 125 whiffs. Jeff Samardzija has to learn how to grind more. He’s been great in some of the bigger games but a season is full of less than dramatic ones. That’s when he has to keep his adrenaline going. All three have shown flashes but none have proven that 2013 is going to be a huge advancement year -- at least not yet.

(Read full post)

Video board won't be ready for start of 2014

July, 13, 2013
7/13/13
8:21
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
ESPNChicago.com
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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.

(Read full post)

JumboTron won't change Wrigley

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
10:37
AM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- Democracy, like baseball, doesn't have a clock.

I think I came up with that gem around the third hour of a five-hour landmark committee meeting at City Hall on Thursday.

A meeting in which one Commission on Chicago Landmarks member asked who would own the signs the Cubs were begging, I mean proposing they put up at Wrigley Field.

Who would own the signs? Was this a trick question? I felt like I was back in Hyde Park discussing Hegel.

"Well, they could lease the sign out," the commission member said.

I think she just discovered advertising, or the leasing of space for money. No wonder this process was so arduous.

In any event, the commission unanimously approved a massive left field LED scoreboard and a large neon right field sign, the two key revenue drivers in Tom Ricketts' group's $300 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field. The commission also approved a "master sign plan" that will guide future advertising as the Cubs feverishly try to take in revenue.

Read the entire story.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.286 13 64 53
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
WJ. Hammel 8
ERAT. Wood 4.72
SOT. Wood 131