By Hal Dardick
8:19 AM CDT, October 17, 2013
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to give the Cubs more flexibility on scheduling night games at Wrigley Field, and the team has agreed to drop a proposed pedestrian bridge over Clark Street from its $500 million renovation plan.
Despite the steps by the mayor to get the stalled project moving, Cubs officials indicated they still have no plans to start work. The team has opted not to start construction without getting an agreement from rooftop club owners not to sue over blocked views.
The latest changes to the stadium deal came in a series of ordinances the mayor introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting.
Under the measure, the Cubs would be allowed to play up to 43 regular-season night games instead of the 46 approved a few months ago. Thirty-five night games would be scheduled prior to the start of the season and another eight would be games that national TV broadcasters ask to be shifted from day to night games. Up to three of those rescheduled games could be played on Saturdays.
Emanuel's proposed change also would remove a requirement that the Cubs get city approval to change the game times after Cubs officials said those provisions could be a deal killer. In addition, the mayor is proposing the Cubs get to put up already-approved new signage with minimal further red tape.
As part of the deal, the team would eliminate a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street linking a hotel to the ballpark and adjacent plaza, move the hotel entrance from Patterson Avenue to Clark, and remove a hotel balcony at Clark and Patterson. That's good news for neighborhood groups.
The Cubs also would get city land to push back the exterior right-field wall by seven feet and the left-field wall by 16 feet. Although a city spokeswoman said in July that the mayor would ask the Cubs to pay for that land, Emanuel spokesman Sarah Hamilton said Wednesday that the mayor has agreed to accept $4.75 million in previously pledged neighborhood investments as compensation.
The Cubs have described moving the walls back as an effort to minimize the impact of new outfield signs — a left-field video board and right-field advertising sign — on rooftop clubs that enjoy lucrative views into the ballpark.
But the rooftop club owners have never proposed moving the walls back and do not believe that helps preserve their views, said Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman for the owners. He also reiterated that the rooftops, who have a revenue-sharing agreement with the Cubs, will try to enforce their contract if the Cubs put up signs that block their views.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green issued a statement tonight. "Not only did several rooftop owners propose moving the walls back, someone may have also forgotten a recent rooftop proposal to create a deck that would be bumped against some of the owners building," Green said.
Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, who worked with the mayor to hammer out a renovation and redevelopment agreement with the team, said he needed time to review the latest changes.
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