No matter what he tells us, restoration is but a small part of the proposals Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has for Wrigley Field. The ballpark, which turns 100 years old in 2014, definitely needs restoring, but using that word is just spin for Ricketts so he can massage a landmark committee into agreeing to changes. Chicago's bureaucracy has its say, too.
The Cubs released renderings of their plans Wednesday and, while alterations are possible if and when objections occur, they're probably a good idea of what will be happening. CSN Chicago has cobbled a slideshow for your viewing (dis)pleasure.
There's no doubt: Wrigley will look significantly different once the $500 million job is finished. The additions in the outfield — particularly a 6,000-square-foot video board, more lights and advertising signage behind the bleachers — won't please everyone, including rooftop apartment owners whose views of the game will be affected, if not blocked. It's unfortunate for some, but the Cubs should be allowed to do what the Boston Red Sox did with Fenway Park: Preserve it, and exploit it, for top dollar.
And if the Cubs don't get what they want?
Ricketts at AM event: If team can't put up OF signs, "we're going to have to consider moving."
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 1, 2013
Threatening to leave, coming from a franchise that hasn't won in 104 years and has relied on the attraction of Wrigley Field for the past 30 years or so when Cubs games became popular to attend in person, might sound funny. It does to rooftop owners:
Beth Murphy, rooftops spokeswoman, on Ricketts threat to move: I don't think it would be a wise decision. — Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 1, 2013
She's right, and maybe it's just a bluff, but it also appears that the rooftop owners have lost most of their leverage. The Cubs are going to get their giant TV and more advertising signs. It's going to happen.
Is it too late for a grand compromise? Would it be agreeable, or even possible, for the Cubs to incorporate a video board, additional lights and advertising signage into the rooftops themselves? Allow the neighbors to become true partners? It would preserve the look of the bleachers, and it would allow the rooftops the same view they've always had. The relationship of the rooftops and Wrigley has been — to a degree — symbiotic. It's part of Wrigley's charm. And the neighborhood obviously benefits from Wrigley being there. Maybe now that the Cubs have shown their proposals officially, and they're basically a thumb in the eye to building owners, the rooftops might agree to compromise.
But the rooftops aren't an actual part of Wrigley Field. The Cubs don't have to share the ballpark. And it appears they won't. Too bad for everybody. It's just worse for some.