The Cubs' seemingly never-ending quest to renovate Wrigley Field may hold one big benefit for the players: a huge clubhouse facility.
Crane Kenney, the team's president of business operations, Tuesday unveiled renderings of the Cubs' plans for the 100-year-old ballpark.
Contact information ( * required )
The newest proposal calls for the home clubhouse to be expanded from 11,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet in a bi-level basement structure west of the Wrigley Field building and be ready by Opening Day 2016. Groundbreaking could begin this July.
The new clubhouse -- along with bullpens being moved from the foul lines to under the outfield bleachers -- is part of an aggressive tack announced last week by team chairman Tom Ricketts.
Because talks with neighboring rooftop owners on a "compromise" renovation have gone nowhere, Ricketts and the Cubs have decided shoot for big things, including seven outfield signs that will block the rooftop views and likely provoke legal action. The rooftop owners pay 17 percent of their revenues to the team in a contract that runs through 2023.
The Cubs originally had planned to expand the clubhouse facilities to about 19,000 square feet, but when they saw the new spring-training facility in Arizona, they decided to go big. Kenney said the new clubhouse would be second in size only to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
"If there is one good thing that came out of the delay, and it's the only good thing that came out of the delay, is that it gave us a chance to see our players in Arizona," Kenney said. "It gave us a chance to see how they use the place there. It caused us to rethink a couple things."
Kenney highlighted other aspects of the renovation plan during a 45-minute presentation to reporters:
• Seven signs, including a video scoreboard and a smaller electronic message board, would span the outfield. Although the rooftop owners have threatened to sue because the signs would block their patrons' views, Kenney said the contract the Cubs have with the rooftop owners allows for the expansion.
"The contract anticipated the city potentially approving a further expansion," he said. "There is specific language to address exactly what we're talking about."
He added: "You have to ask yourself: How much of the rooftop business is really driven by a perfect vision of the game, and how much of it is like tailgating, where you're near the action and people like to gather?"
• The revised renovations would add $75 million to the cost of the total project, which includes a hotel across Clark Street. Kenney said another site in Chicago is a possibility of the Cubs can't get what they want at Clark and Addison.
The Cubs will go before Chicago's landmark commission on June 5.
"If we don't control our ballpark, then we have to look at other options, and we'll work with the city on that," Kenney said. "Right now, we and the city believe this project will move forward."
• The left-field video board will be reduced in size from its originally planned 4,560 square feet to 3,950. The Cubs also had planned to add lights to the video board to illuminate the playing field, but instead new light standards above the left- and right-field corners would be erected.
• The bullpens would be placed under the right-center and left-center bleachers. The doorways in those parts of the park would be expanded to allow players to view the field, but the Cubs say the brick walls and iconic ivy would not be significantly affected.
The Cubs say they need the revenues the proposed expansion would bring to support the baseball operation, which has seen its player payroll on the major-league level steadily reduced in recent years.
"This is just a math problem for us," Kenney said. "There is no animosity (with the rooftop owners). There are no hard feelings. We need to generate revenues at the ballpark. We're financing this ourselves.
"We need to generate enough income inside this ballpark to support the redevelopment. That can come from ownership, partnership, variety of relationships with the rooftops, or it could come through adding new sign positions."