Cubs hope for Wrigley deal soon

Updated: March 14, 2013, 4:35 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts hopes to get approval by next month from the city to move ahead in the fall on the five-year renovation plan of Wrigley Field.

"There are a handful of issues," Ricketts said Wednesday from the site of the Cubs' new spring training facility. "We are just working them out with the alderman (Tom Tunney) and working them out with (Mayor Rahm Emanuel). We are hopeful we will get some resolutions soon. If at some point we are going to be in the ground (starting the project) in October, we have to get to some resolution in the next few weeks."

Emanuel has told the Cubs they need to work out an agreement with the neighborhood and rooftop owners before he will agree to ease the restrictions on the landmark status of Wrigley Field. The Cubs cannot make any significant changes to the ballpark's interior or exterior without the mayor's approval. The 17 rooftop owners proposed in late January that the Cubs use their buildings for advertising signs rather than block the view of some of the buildings with advertisement on the back walls of the Wrigley bleachers. The Ricketts family said in January that it will pay the entire freight -- estimated at $300 million -- of the renovation.

"I think everyone has incentives to get the project started," Ricketts said. "It is a great project for our players who will be leaving this new facility and they need a new clubhouse. It is a great project for our fans who have to go to the washroom and get food knowing it is not the best. it is a great project for the community, the stuff we are going to do around the park. This will be a value-added amenity for all the neighbors. This is an incredible project for the city."

Ricketts will not start the project until he gets the go-ahead from the city.

"What we said in January was we will pay for the project, but we need to have control over our ballpark," he said.

The city of Mesa, Ariz., has put forth $84 million toward the "Wrigley West" spring training facility that is partially completed. Ricketts and his top business executives gave a two-hour media tour of the working area Wednesday afternoon.

A 15,000-seat stadium and 70,000-square foot building will house a state-of-the-art clubhouse and a 9,000-square foot weight-cardio room. New offices are also a part of the facility that will be completed by December.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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