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Tunney Balks at Cubs' Latest Wrigley Renovation Proposal

By Ted Cox | May 22, 2014 1:44pm
 The Cubs and the city reached an agreement on $500 million in renovations and neighborhood improvements.
Cubs announce new Wrigley renovations
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CITY HALL — Lakeview's alderman balked Thursday at the latest revisions to the Wrigley Field renovation plans submitted by the Cubs.

"I'm opposed to any further signs at Wrigley Field beyond those agreed to last year," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Thursday during a break in City Council committee hearings.

Tunney said the renovation plan passed by the City Council last summer "included a very generous sign package" and that he was "disappointed" that hard-earned compromise was being jeopardized.

Cub Chairman Tom Ricketts released a video Wednesday saying "it's time to move forward" on the Wrigley renovation, and announcing a new array of outfield signs. Rooftop owners, fearing their views being blocked, immediately lashed back threatening to file suit against the new signs.

 Ald. Tom Tunney says Wrigleyville has made enough concessions on Cub plans to renovate Wrigley Field.
Ald. Tom Tunney says Wrigleyville has made enough concessions on Cub plans to renovate Wrigley Field.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

The two sides have been negotiating on renovation plans for years, with rooftops opposed to anything that would block views and the Cubs insisting they wouldn't begin any actual construction until receiving assurances rooftop owners wouldn't sue.

Tunney said he had always been opposed to new Wrigley Field signs, going back to the Toyota advertising sign installed in left field years ago. But he said negotiations between the Cubs and community groups had produced "a very fair package" with two signs, one for a video scoreboard in left field and one for a smaller sign in right.

"The neighborhood gave a lot of concessions to pass this planned development," Tunney added. "We literally rolled out the red carpet to keep the team at the historic corner of Clark and Addison."

Tunney threw Ricketts' words back at him, saying he had pledged in 2011 to win a championship for the Cubs, preserve Wrigley Field and be "a great neighbor." Tunney added, "I believe the 'great neighbor' goal is missing from this latest proposal and needs to be respected."

Tunney cited the contract the Cubs earlier signed with rooftop owners and that the Ricketts family inherited when it bought the team. He said it still had 10 years to run, and he expected that issue to be settled in the courts, something both the Cubs and rooftops seemed resigned to when Ricketts made his latest renovation plans public Wednesday. Rooftops swapped 17 percent of revenues for unimpeded views of the ballpark as part of that earlier deal.

"If there's a permit issued for a sign, I believe there will be a lawsuit," Tunney said. "And then the courts will decide."

Tunney said he represented neighborhood residents and that the bright signs were a quality-of-life issue in that they could be a "nuisance" for blocks around, but he had also received campaign contributions from Wrigley rooftop firms.

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.

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