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posted: 7/12/2014 8:01 PM

With Wrigley decision, Cubs have a chance to win

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The best Cubs news of the season, decade, and millennium came a day after they lost their sixth game in a row.

Thursday, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave unanimous approval to the full $575 million revised plan to rebuild and re-monetize Wrigley Field.

There's activity immediately, as the "brown lot" parking structure on Eddy Street is to be rebuilt and expanded.

And sometime soon after the last home game on Sept. 24, the larger projects will begin in earnest. Maybe laborers will wear Cubs batting helmets for style and symbolism. Game on.

Next April, at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland, things should look vastly different from both sides.

The team's ambition is to have the following projects FINISHED by Opening Day 2015:

• New bleacher seating, possibly after a tear-down and rebuild to make room for an outfield restaurant.

• New group terraces in right and left field, with enclosed hospitality areas.

• All seven of the proposed outfield advertising signs, including the LED scoreboard in right, and the near 4,000-square-foot video board left field.

Be prepared for a revamped aesthetic. Tradition meets commerce, to ensure the income needed for competitiveness.

As I've written here on the obvious model of Fenway Park, modernization does not mean the death of a shrine. A trip to Fenway is now more comfortable, the organization more viable, and still brings a warm connection to baseball history.

There is still "negotiating" ongoing between the Cubs and the rooftop owners, but only at the mayor's behest.

There will be no reduction of signage, nothing else structurally changed to appease the Roofies.

They blinked. When, to paraphrase, they said "um, hey, so 2 signs are fine …remember that other plan …yeah let's do that" a couple weeks ago, you knew the game of chicken was over. They know they can't sustain the cost and commitment of a lawsuit, with no guarantee of an eventual win anyway.

I would still bet on a cash settlement. That 20-year contract Cubs Business Operations foolishly signed will force a payout.

But for now, Cubs staffers will sit in meetings and just take it. They'll listen to three-flat owners bemoaning the loss of their main attraction, listen to neighbors voicing concerns over migratory birds, and even listen to ballhawks worrying about the loss of souvenirs they turn around and sell.

Jeez, I hope the pig-sized rats under the ballpark will be OK.

These concerns will be heard and mostly discarded. Cubs' spokesman Julian Greene said Thursday that "the signage we got approved today is the signage that we're going to move forward with. Period."

The revenue from that signage alone is estimated to bring $30 million to $40 million a year. Baseball Operations will need that in a few seasons, for a variety of reasons.

When the moment is right to sign a big-money player or two, Theo Epstein will. But he knows the millions in those contracts will be wasted.

These days, teams often make a 6-8 year commitment to a star player in his prime, knowing full well that the final couple seasons could be useless. And in a pitcher's case, the seemingly unpredictable elbow injury epidemic may take away 18 months at any moment.

Maybe one day all the general managers will be unified in seeing the folly of $150 million pitcher deals. Maybe research and info will be shared, and there will be collusion of sorts so as not to destroy payrolls.

Now, though, the extra income from stadium renovations and television deals is how ball clubs have to cushion themselves to survive contract roulette.

Finally, after years of old ownership that did nothing, and new ownership that tried to play a little too nice, this week brought resolution.

The Cubs are empowered to beomce a more viable baseball franchise.

• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.

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