The Chicago Cubs beloved ballpark, Wrigley Field, is finally getting an upgrade. And it is a big one.
A five year, $500 million renovation deal was announced Sunday, April 14. It promises to install a new 6,000-square foot electronic outfield video scoreboard in left field and add 1,000 remote parking spots with free shuttle service among other innovations.
The changes inside the ballpark should increase revenue for the Cubs. An increase in the number of night games played (from 30 to 40 a year) and extension of beer sales until the end for the seventh inning should make a tangible difference for fans.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel described the deal as “allow[ing] the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors”. The agreement includes no taxpayer funding and will largely be supported by Cubs ownership and new marketing revenue.
The plan does have a few hurdles to still overcome.
First, rooftop building seat owners have threatened to sue the organization if renovations obstruct their view. The possible business implications are huge. If views are blocked, large streams of revenue and the pricey rooftop seats may go shut down. As a result, these owners are waiting for details about locations of the new outfield installations and may seek compensation if they believe their product is damaged.
Second, local Wrigleyville neighbors have voiced concerns about increased traffic and noise due to the renovations. The Cubs are hoping to minimize these worries through public hearings and community concessions such as free off-site parking and building other local infrastructure.
Finally, the organization is looking to change Wrigley Field’s property tax status so they can be eligible for millions in tax credits under the National Register for Historic Places. It is still questionable whether the government will approve this application but it would make a big difference in the on-time completion of the planned overhaul.
This deal has been described as a “win-win” for the Cubs and the city. With much needed stadium upgrades to modernize the charm of one of Chicago’s biggest attractions, it is tough to disagree with the ideas ownership has presented.
That being said, the devil is always in the details so the question remains how effectively the team will able to overcome hurdles while maintaining the integrity of their original mission. To improve fans’ Wrigley experience without sacrificing the historic feel of the ballpark will be tough but if done correctly, these renovations may reinvigorate Cubs baseball for years to come.
Photo Credit : Zoonabar