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Sunday, February 17, 2013
Cubs hopeful for Wrigley renovation

By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts seemed upbeat about his planned renovations to Wrigley Field when speaking with the media on Sunday, even though the timing of the project remains uncertain.

While Ricketts forges ahead with his plans to complete the team's new spring training facility by next fall and a build a new state-of-the-art complex in the Dominican Republic in 2014, the gray area still revolves around the start of renovations at Wrigley Field. Due to the landmark status of Wrigley Field, the ownership group would need the approval of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to proceed with any changes to Wrigley's exterior.

"I think we have made a lot of progress and we are still working forward," Ricketts said at training camp Sunday. "The mayor's office has been very helpful, but (the renovation OK) is still in progress right now."

The Cubs want to begin the renovation of Wrigley in the fall as they envision a five-year plan to fully rehab the 99-year-old facility.

"The way it is looking now, hopefully we can get through what we have to do (for city approval) in the next couple of weeks, and that will give us plenty of time to get ready for the offseason."

The Cubs announced on Jan. 19 that they are prepared to pay for the entire $300 million project if they are allowed to add new revenue streams via ballpark signage and to add more night games to their schedule.

Ricketts said he does not believe that the franchise will get the OK for more night games in 2013.

"All the discussion about night games is toward the future," he said. "There are a lot of things that we have to deal with at Wrigley Field that other teams don't, whether that is signage restrictions, rooftops, other people selling Cubs gear right outside the park. All that is great for them -- it doesn't help us.

"We have to get those resources back into the team so I can give those to (president of baseball operations) Theo (Epstein) to put on the field or get those resources into improving the third largest tourist attraction (Wrigley) in the state."