Key alderman, City Council committee back Wrigley upgrade, clearing path for $500M plan

  • Updated: July 23, 2013 - 6:15 PM

CHICAGO — A proposed $500 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field received crucial backing Tuesday from the local alderman and a Chicago City Council committee, clearing a path for final approval.

Alderman Tom Tunney said he signed off on the deal after winning concessions from the Chicago Cubs owners, who also own the ballpark. Among them was an agreement not to erect any outfield signs in addition to an electronic Jumbotron in left field — a first for the 99-year-old ballpark — and another large sign in right. Tunney said the Cubs also agreed to postpone indefinitely a proposed bridge over adjoining Clark Street.

"With the changes noted, I can now support this planned development," Tunney said. "Our community has achieved many goals and victories through this process. As this project becomes a reality in the coming years, no doubt there will be more issues and details to be debated."

A short time later, by a voice vote, the City Council's zoning committee approved the renovation project and sent it to the full council for a Wednesday vote.

Tunney's support was crucial because there is a tradition in Chicago that other aldermen vote the way the local alderman wants in zoning and development issues.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that overcoming the remaining issues "will allow the planned development to go forward so the Cubs can begin investing in Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville."

Still looming is whether the Jumbotron and the large sign in right field will disrupt the views of the rooftops across the street. The owners of the rooftops, who have a contract with the Cubs to share a chunk of their revenue with the team, have said repeatedly that they might file suit if the Cubs put up anything that cuts into their views.

The Cubs say they need advertising revenue from the signs to help fund the renovation project, which the team is paying for without public money.

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