Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts made a brief appearance at Wrigley Field on Friday to say he is excited about moving forward on the renovation of the 100-year-old ballpark.
On Thursday, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave unanimous approval to the Cubs' $575 million plan to renovate the park, add lucrative signage, and build on the surrounding area.
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"Obviously, it was very important for us to get those approvals to move forward, and we're excited to to begin the renovation process as opposed to the political process," Ricketts said before the Cubs played the Atlanta Braves. "It's been a long process. We're just glad that it's behind us. I'm not worried about anything happening in the past. We're just going to go forward."
Ricketts said the Cubs don't have a groundbreaking date set for the four-year project. One sticking point remains the threat of a lawsuit by the neighboring rooftop owners, who charge patrons for watching Cubs games and share a percentage of their proceeds with the club.
They object to the Cubs adding seven advertising signs they say will block their views. Recently, some rooftop owners said they would not sue if the Cubs stuck with their original plans to add two large signs. The Cubs also plan to put a big-screen video board beyond the left-field bleachers.
Ricketts said talks between the two sides will continue, as was urged by the city. But Cubs officials seem intent on moving full speed ahead.
"Everyone has an incentive to work together to save Wrigley Field," Ricketts said. "Obviously, we've always had a very long-term perspective and so a lot of short-term setbacks or friction in the process, we just kept it in perspective and tried to take the high road and keep moving forward. I think we're in a good spot now.
"We'll reach out and we'll talk to everybody. I think there will be a solution that works. We're always talking with those guys (rooftop owners)."
As for the baseball-operations side of the organization, Ricketts said he continues to have faith in the long-term rebuilding plan set out by team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. The Cubs are in last place in the third year of the Epstein-Hoyer regime.
A week ago, the Cubs traded top pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, but in doing so they added to a farm system that now ranks among the best.
"There's no one in this organization that isn't excited," Ricketts said. "You can't look at our future and not be just thrilled. We have top prospects across the board. A lot of the guys that we were hoping would step up this year and continue their development have. I think you can't be anything but excited for our future."