Commission on Chicago Landmarks approves revised Wrigley Field expansion plans

Commission on Chicago Landmarks approves revised Wrigley Field expansion plans

The Cubs were at City Hall pitching their plan today after their neighborhood meeting on Monday.  While the Mayor has weighed in on the possible negotiations still to be done between the Cubs and the rooftops re: the number of signs in the outfield (and you might as well read Brett's article over at Bleacher Nation to get a glimpse of what his lack-of-stand is), most of the plan seemed to have stayed intact with some minor changes to appease Rahm Emanuel.  This tweet from Danny Ecker (and keep the 140 character limit into account for context) suggests that the Cubs have a fairly easy road to approval:


Also interesting:

Which is nice for guys like Junior Lake who may crash into those doors at some point chasing fly balls.  It seems that the "uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers" is in play here:



So you can tell that the Cubs are really working hard to make sure they keep as true to the Landmarks guidelines as possible while still going through with their "expansion" here.  Looks like the light towers were required so the Landmarks folks had no choice:


Hopefully they don't affect migratory bird behavior.  The signs will also add to the light pollution, I guess:


This one is a little weird and I'd like to see a rendering to determine how it may affect the batter's eye area (via Ted Cox):



So note the word "COULD" rather than "WOULD," suggesting that there are some loopholes that the Cubs can still exploit if they chose to keep building and expanding. The Cubs are getting a lot based on their earlier revised proposal that set all this off.


I'd love nothing more for it to be the Cubs saying, "You'll take our plan and you'll LIKE it," but it's never quite that simple, is it? Then again the Cubs originally wanted two signs as their compromise and the rooftops didn't want to settle then, so they might be out of luck. As if knowing this...


A deferment? They've been deferring for months, you wanted the Cubs to start building!


So suck it, Tom Tunney!


Tom Tunney kept stalling and saying stuff wasn't fair etc. etc. but I kind of glazed over that.  Jared Hopkins has a good timeline if you're interested in the public comments after Tunney was done filibustering.  Migratory birds are still a major neighborhood concern.  Then the rooftops' lawyer, Tom Moore, got to talk for twenty minutes while we celebrated Anthony Rizzo getting voted into the All-Star Game after we non-democratically-but-still-democratically broke Twitter.

And now we have it!



Prepare for the requisite fallout from the rooftops and maybe a few legal skirmishes here and there, but I think we can expect some construction next to Wrigley Field very soon. Stay tuned!

UPDATE 4:47 PM: Pretty quick statement from the rooftops as they're hoping to continue "negotiating" with the Cubs, via David Schuster's Facebook Page:

"The rooftop owners oppose the plan brought by the Ricketts family the Landmarks Commission approved today. If these signs were to be erected, the blockage would absolutely violate our 20-year contract, just as they violate the spirit of Wrigley's long-standing landmark status. However, we're optimistic that Mayor Emanuel's directive to the Ricketts family to work out a compromise with rooftop owners could create a breakthrough. In fact, every rooftop owner supports a plan that's currently on the table resulting in two signs that mitigate blockage, generates revenue to modernize Wrigley Field and takes litigation off the table. We look forward to sitting down with Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts immediately and engaging in good faith negotiations. We see a path for a win-win solution, and our intention is to report a global solution very quickly."

Buy them out, boys.  As former ChicagoNow guru Julie DiCaro said:



So yeah, there might be some legal fireworks, but the Cubs have the city's backing. The leverage is theirs.

UPDATE 5:25 PM: Here's a pretty decent summary from the Tribune of the events that occurred today.  Also, the Mayor's Office released a statement:

"The plan approved today for Wrigley Field is a step forward for the Cubs and the neighborhood. Not only does it uphold the architectural heritage of the stadium that Chicagoans can enjoy, but will generate thousands of jobs. I fully expect the owners to initiate the restoration of Wrigley Field and to invest in the surrounding Wrigleyville area, including traffic flow, security, and public parks. In addition, discussions with the rooftop owners should - and must - continue so that this plan remains a win-win."

So the Cubs have the Mayor's backing, the approval from the Landmarks Commission, and will have to apply for permits and settle whatever is left with the rooftops.  Let's go.

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  • 1. You have been spammed.
    2. The running tweets seem to be the new version of community papers running every NIMBY's argument before a planning commission. Unless they are sufficient to induce Walmart not to build at a proposed location, they are meaningless in the big picture. For instance, there is a limit to how much Wrigley Field can be expanded and still stay in the city block. I doubt that there will ever be a plan to double deck the bleachers.
    3. As I said here a couple of days ago, the arbitration clause bars the rooftop owners from gong to court. Even Hanley pointed that out to Levine today, although in terms of "not immediately."
    4. The consensus this morning also was that you can't see much (certainly not the whole field) from the rooftops, so this won't affect their allure as a place to get drunk.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks! Took care of the spam. The arbitration issue is certainly spelled out in the agreement between the Cubs and the rooftops but who knows what tricks they'll pull? (I'm certainly not a lawyer)

    My line of thinking is that the Cubs are likely to just build and then buy out the rooftops at some point especially if the loser has to bear the cost of litigation (I believe that's also in the agreement) and obviously one side has a lot more money and lawyers than the other, so...

  • In reply to Rice Cube:

    Last point first, even Levine recognized that there isn't going to be litigation because the rooftop owners can't afford it.

    There are few tricks that can be pulled with an arbitration clause. If someone sues, the immediate response is to move to stay the suit and compel arbitration, which is pretty much automatically granted. And to Hanley's point that arbitration only delays getting to court, at that point, the only grounds for reversing the arbitrator was that there wasn't an agreement to arbitrate the dispute (clearly not the case here), or the arbitrator acted in a fraudulent or arbitrary and capricious manner. Since the only argument here is what the agreement means by "city approved expansion" and even if that clause is now operative, the courts are not going to second guess the arbitrator on that.

    Again, note how quickly A Rod dismissed his suit once the judge said that the arbitration decision had to be attached.

    The buyout is a fair topic of speculation.

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