Chicago and the Ricketts family are close to agreeing on a $500 million renovation project on Wrigley Field, the 99-year-old stadium home to the Chicago Cubs.
Part of the deal is adding two signs in the ballpark. One is a huge video scoreboard in left field. There is a major problem with this: the Jumbotron would block the view from the rooftops. Fans watching games from the rooftops is a long standing tradition. In 2004, the owners of the buildings and the Cubs reached an agreement that made the rooftop owners share 17% of their revenue with the team. The agreement expires in 2024 and the owners claim this project violates their deal with the Cubs. Another sign would be put in right field, but would not affect the rooftops on that side.
Other renovations include a 300-space parking lot, added police protection, more night games, and a $200 million hotel.
The signs and additional night games would bring in much-needed revenue. Team chairman Tom Ricketts said he would pay for the entire project if these are approved. Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs to relax the stadium’s landmark status in order to add the signs.
But many fans feel tradition is priceless and are sentimentally against the new signs. Fenway Park has the Green Monster and Wrigley Field has the rooftops. Wrigley has an old-school feel to it. It was a time before fans were bombarded with products and a company sponsored every stat and play. The fans are not distracted by bright lights and can concentrate solely on the game. A huge sign would also block the beautiful Chicago skyline. Granted, it is not downtown, but it is still Chicago.
The Cubs open Wrigley Field on Monday, and that is when the deal is expected to be announced.