One year ago, the Cubs made a lavish presentation and rolled out plans to renovate Wrigley Field, which turns 100 years old this year.
Those plans stalled, in part because of disputes with neighboring rooftop owners. But members of the Cubs' management expressed optimism Saturday that a deal could get done and that construction could start at the end of the 2014 season.
Originally planned as a five-year project, the Cubs said they are hopeful they now can get the project done over four off-seasons.
"We're hoping soon," said board member Laura Ricketts of the family that owns the Cubs.
The Cubs have cleared almost all hurdles to renovating the park. However, they are refusing to break ground unless the neighboring rooftop owners -- who charge fans to watch games from their buildings as part of their contract with the Cubs -- drop threats of legal action against the Cubs. for partially blocking their views with signage
Cubs baseball people would love to have new clubhouses and batting cages for the players, but the Cubs have been reluctant to start pieces of the project for fear rooftop owners would sue and shut down any work with an injunction.
Members of team management and ownership said Saturday they've recently had good talks with rooftop owners.
"We had two meetings last week with most of the rooftop owners and the city," said Crane Kenney, the team's president of business operations. "There's a lot of urgency to get this moving. Conversations were good. Like all of our situations, we're always willing to make a good deal. We are not going to do something that sets us back in the long term. But I feel confident. We're working our way toward the finish line here."
One more reason to go:
All weekend, the Cubs asked fans if they planned to travel to Arizona to check out the team's sparkling new spring-training facility.
On Saturday, they gave fans one more reason to so. Members of the team's baseball-operations management indicated that top prospects Kris Bryant and Albert Almora would get invitations to big-league spring training as nonroster players.
Bryant, a third baseman, was the team's first-round draft pick in 2013. Center fielder Almora was the Cubs' top pick in 2012. Both attended last week's rookie development camp, and the Cubs said it's a good bet all but three players from that camp would go to spring training with the big-league club and that those three players were pitchers, who needed more time in minor-league camp.
Veras to close?
New manager Rick Renteria said newly signed pitcher Jose Veras is the front-runner to be the closer this season.
"I think he was instrumental in Detroit's move this particular year (2013)," Renteria said. "I think we're bringing him in because of the confidence that he can follow through in that ninth inning. That's a special inning in baseball, obviously."