Bridge Linking a Wrigley Right Field Patio to Addison 'L' Proposed: Sources
WRIGLEYVILLE — A pedestrian bridge could be making its way back into the Cubs' Wrigley Field renovation plan, but this time it would be over Sheffield Avenue — and might reach the "L".
Sources say if the team can't get a controversial bridge over Clark Street approved, they're pitching a separate plan that would connect the Addison Red Line station to Wrigley Field beyond right field.
That plan, shown to some neighborhood residents last week, would include a patio behind the right field seats. To do that, the Cubs would need to extend the stadium's exterior wall an additional 8 feet onto Sheffield Avenue, taking out a parking lane, sources said.
The sidewalk on the west side of Sheffield Avenue would pass under the overhead patio, sources said.
The city would need to grant the Cubs access to the public way for the plan to work. The team does not want to pay for access to the public way and pointed to the return on investment, from millions in tax dollars to 2,100 jobs, the project brings to the neighborhood.
Details of the latest twist in the ongoing Wrigley renovation story emerged Wednesday, the day the City Council approved the team's overall plan to rehab the park and develop nearby land. The bridge over Clark Street was not approved as part of the vote.
Rooftop owners initially pitched the idea of a Sheffield Avenue patio to minimize blocked views from a large sign to go up in right field, going as far as providing their own rendering to the Cubs, several sources said.
A Cubs source said that with a patio, no rooftop views would be blocked by a 650-square-foot advertisement that will go up in right field.
The team added on the overhead walkway from the Addison Red Line "L" stop to the ballpark after members of Southport Neighbors told Cubs in a private meeting that a "people mover" from the train to the field would be a good way to get Cubs fans off the streets.
The City Council voted to approve the $500 million development plan Wednesday, but only with a firm handshake agreement between Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and the Cubs that such critical issues as the bridge over Clark Street, a hotel entrance on Patterson Avenue and a portico over Patterson Avenue would be discussed later.
The team still wants the bridge over Clark Street, but if that's not an option as negotiations continue, the Cubs want ideas like the patio on Sheffield Avenue approved, sources said.
The Sheffield Avenue patio is one of several ideas floated in recent months to minimize the impact of outfield signs. Though the rooftop owners have not sat down with the team as a group, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the rooftop owners have been responding to ideas through representatives such as Tunney and attorneys.
Mike Lufrano, the Cubs' executive vice president of community affairs, showed several renderings of the Sheffield Avenue patio and walkway proposal to neighbors in a closed meeting last week, according to neighbors in attendance. One of the renderings was from the rooftop owners themselves.
Before the shovel hits the ground in the offseason, the team needs to know that the rooftop owners won't sue, Green said.
"We need long-term certainty on outfield signs," he said.
The walkway from the Addison Red Line "L" stop is an aspect of the proposal that the Cubs added.
Lufrano told neighbors in a closed meeting last week that it would be built over an east-west alley just north of Addison, sources said.
But the suggestion of using more public way angered some East Lakeview residents who already felt like they'd been thrown under the bus in negotiations that included game day street festivals and the moving of exterior walls on Sheffield and Waveland avenues.
Business owners also worried that a walkway would cost them some customers, with fans taking the walkway instead of walking down Addison, sources said.
"People were like, 'Absolutely not, are you f----- kidding me? Another land grab!' " said a neighbor at the meeting who asked to remain anonymous. "You would have thought [Lufrano's] head was on a pitchfork."
Other neighbors supported the idea of moving people off the street with a walkway, said Nicole Strecker, who also attended the meeting. The patio itself also garnered some support since it would be near a street largely occupied by buildings where people already drink on roofs — and especially since the rooftops suggested it, she said.
But the problem is the rendering of the bridge over Sheffield Avenue was "really ugly," Strecker said.
A drawing showed that the bridge started about midway up Sheffield Avenue, right where the field can be seen from street level through a "knothole" section. It would extend south to the alley, where it would make a 90-degree turn, span Sheffield Avenue and the east-west alley and then connect to the "L".
"It really looks like a long, extended viaduct," she said. "Driving under it would be like driving under the viaducts under Lakeshore Drive."
That, in addition to a general weariness of negotiation with the Cubs after what some neighbors still consider a loss, left many neighbors hesitant to fully support the idea.
Timing of future discussions is unclear. Tunney's office said it's too early to comment on the plan. A rooftops spokesman declined to comment.
"We need to have more details and dialogue before we move forward with anything new," said Bennett Lawson, the alderman's chief of staff.
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.