Wrigley Field nears deal for special designationPosted: Friday November 22, 2002 6:06 PM
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cubs are closing in on a deal that would allow them to expand Wrigley Field and would make the famous ballpark a landmark.
"Agreeing to a landmarking of any kind, in our view, is a tremendous concession," Cubs president Andy MacPhail said Friday, noting that no other major league park has such a designation.
Permission to expand the ballpark has been debated for nearly two years as the team, residents and City Hall argued over traffic, safety and a city commission's proposal to designate the Friendly Confines a historic landmark.
"I think we're 99.9 percent of the way there," said Alderman Bernard Hansen, whose ward includes Wrigley Field.
MacPhail and Cubs executive vice president Mark McGuire said during a taping of WBBM-AM's At Issue program that the plan would protect key architectural features, including the center-field scoreboard, marquee and ivy-covered walls.
In exchange, the Cubs -- who don't want landmark protection -- would get to renovate and expand the bleachers. The number of new seats is uncertain but would be fewer than 2,000, the Cubs said. The ballpark's capacity currently is 39,059.
Hansen said the landmark process and the bleacher expansion are separate.
Normally, designating a building a landmark means any changes must get special city approval. Hansen said the Wrigley deal would exempt concession stands, washrooms and business offices in the park's lower concourse from such restrictions.
Mayor Richard M. Daley's office did not answer messages seeking comment.
The team also has proposed expanding the number of night games from 18 to 30 each season, arguing that later games are more convenient for fans and easier on players.
Some Wrigleyville neighbors object to expansion and more night games, arguing the moves would worsen problems ranging from traffic tieups to drunken fans.
The Tribune Co., owner of the Cubs, has proposed spending a minimum of $100,000 a year to address those concerns. The team has offered to take more steps, including hiring a full-time community liaison officer.
"I'm becoming an expert on the spirit of compromise," MacPhail said.
Also Friday, the Cubs said they are encouraged by reports that owners of buildings overlooking Wrigley Field might agree to pay licensing fees on tickets they sell to watch the game from those rooftops.