Chicago Cubs Set for Major Wrigley Field Renovation

April 16, 2013

Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs have announced a $500 million plan for the renovation of Wrigley Field, which includes a video scoreboard in left field as well as significant improvements to the Wrigleyville community.

The Cubs and the city of Chicago reached an agreement on the proposal, which has been reviewed in community meetings over the past few weeks and will continue to be discussed. The Cubs must formally submit plan development designs to the city for more public hearings before it is finalized, and that could be completed within the next few weeks.

“If this plan is approved, we will win the World Series for our fans and our city,” Cubs chairman TomRicketts said.

Ricketts called Monday a “milestone” for the Cubs. The team first revealed its five-year renovation plan at the Cubs Convention in January. No public dollars will be needed to save the 99-year-old ballpark.

“I always believed, and I still believe, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do what’s right for Wrigley Field, not only economically,” Ricketts said during a news conference on the ballpark’s concourse. “It’s a special place and has a special role in baseball history.”

Besides being home to the Cubs, Wrigley Field also is the third-largest tourist attraction in Illinois and provides a huge economic boost to the city of Chicago.

If approved, the renovation plan would create 2,100 new jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue for the city, state and county. The jobs include 800 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs, and this would be among the biggest investments currently under way in the city of Chicago.

Wrigley currently has a manually operated scoreboard, which would remain.

“I like Wrigley Field and I’m very traditional,” Ricketts said. “But the fact is when you look at what fans are asking for now to improve their game-day experience, and you add the economic value of a video board, it becomes obvious that it’s the next best step for us.”

The top priority is to renovate the home clubhouse. Players at other ballparks have access to batting cages during games; the Cubs’ batting cages are under the bleachers and players instead use a batting tee in the clubhouse and hit into a net.

“We don’t want to be telling our players this is a first-class organization and give them second-rate facilities,” Ricketts said. “It’s not just how it looks and how it feels but how it works. We’d like to get batting cages built, better training facilities built. The ability to do that will be subject to how quickly the process moves.”

The additional revenue will be channeled into the baseball operations budget.

“It’s my responsibility to generate as much revenue as I can to give to the guys in the baseball organization so they can put that back on the field to make us more competitive,” Ricketts said. “This is a big step in that direction.”

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