CITY HALL — The Cubs got City Council approval on their latest alterations to the Wrigley Field rehab project Wednesday, but it came with a demand from the mayor and Wrigleyville's alderman.
"The Cubs need to start the work as soon as possible," said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).
"They need to get started," Mayor Rahm Emanuel added after Wednesday's council session.
"It is a little cold out there right now," Emanuel allowed, quickly adding, "They need to get started, and I was clear and unambiguous with the ownership about that even prior to today's City Council actions."
The city and the Cubs had reached a "comprehensive agreement" in a "timely fashion," Emanuel said. "We're holding up our side, and I expect them and the other vested interests — meaning also the rooftops — to resolve their issues so the whole city can benefit."
The Cubs have insisted they won't begin actual construction until they receive assurances from rooftop owners that they won't drag the team into court over changes to the views resulting from the renovation.
The most recent tweaks to the Wrigley renovation approved by the City Council Wednesday include authorization for up to 43 night games in exchange for free remote parking and penalties on concerts running past the 11 p.m. curfew, as well as moving the right-field wall out on Sheffield Avenue, with the city giving up parking spaces across the street. The council also approved a so-called branded arch spanning Clark Street from a hotel to be built on the west side.
"We have a package that gives the Cubs flexibility and certainty in the operation and development of the ballpark," Tunney said in the council meeting. "This is economic development for our city." He added that the new details include protection and safety for the Lakeview neighborhood.
Both Tunney and Emanuel emphasized it was all being done without taxpayer subsidies, but for a landmark tax break Tunney called "a fair subsidy." Tunney pointed to previous stadium boondoggles in Chicago, clearly referencing White Sox park and the Soldier Field rehab, and Emanuel pointed to the Atlanta Braves, who are moving to the suburbs less than 20 years after having a new downtown stadium built.
"I think the deal, the arrangement that we worked out, is good for Wrigleyville as well as for Wrigley Field, and that means it's gonna be good for the City of Chicago," Emanuel said. "I do think the community is going to win. I hope the Cubs win. I do think Wrigley Field is gonna win. And I think the city is gonna win."
"Of course, you know that the Ricketts family have ideas every month, so we'll probably be back" all too soon, Tunney said. Yet he insisted he didn't want that to happen for a "very, very long time." He said the Cubs had "exhausted the patience" of himself and neighborhood groups.
"It's a good deal for the city. It's a good deal for the Cubs," Tunney said, adding, "The Cubs need to start the work as soon as possible."
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.