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Rahm on Latest Wrigley Rehab Plans: Not so Fast

By Ted Cox | May 28, 2014 5:02pm
 The revamped Wrigley Field would include additional signage, as pictured above.
The revamped Wrigley Field would include additional signage, as pictured above.
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Chicago Cubs

CITY HALL — A weary Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the Cubs and rooftop owners should "get together and resolve the issue" Wednesday over the proposed Wrigley Field renovation, but quickly added that the Cubs' latest plans would not be fast-tracked before the Commission on Landmarks.

"They have work to do," Emanuel said of the Cubs.

"We worked through it many hours — not just my office, other parties — to find a balanced approach," Emanuel said after Wednesday's City Council meeting. He added that all involved were striving to allow "the modernization of Wrigley ... that's respectful of its tradition."

While a deal appeared to be done last year, negotiations dragged on between rooftop owners, concerned about aspects of the renovation blocking their views, and the Cubs, who said they wouldn't begin construction without a pledge from rooftops not to sue.

That went out the window last week when the Cubs announced they'd proceed with new plans including abundant new signs in the outfield, inviting rooftop owners to sue. The Cubs followed that with more new plans this week.

Emanuel emphasized that original negotiations on the Wrigley rehab went back to Mayor Richard M. Daley and that Emanuel's appointed council floor leader, Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), had been mediating between the Cubs and rooftop owners "for months."

"They've spent more than a year at it," Emanuel said. "There's no doubt a lot of people put a lot of effort and lot of work into this."

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) likewise expressed exasperation last week.

Tunney and Emanuel have both expressed impatience with the Cubs' refusal to get started on the previous plans, with Emanuel mentioning Wednesday needed "investments in the neighborhood that have been long-awaited."

Yet Emanuel pulled back the reins on that at the same time, saying O'Connor hadn't even heard of the Cubs' new plans to move the Wrigley bullpens away from the foul lines until it was suddenly presented in the latest proposal. For that reason, he said, it would not be on the agenda of next week's meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which has to approve any significant changes to the historic ballpark.

"This recent submission is not ready for next week," Emanuel said.

The mayor appoints the members of the commission and holds considerable sway over its actions.

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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