End in sight for Cubs with Wrigley renovation dispute

End in sight for Cubs with Wrigley renovation dispute
November 6, 2013, 7:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

The Wrigley Field renovation saga has gone on longer than anybody could have anticipated, but an end appears in sight.

Thursday, the Cubs received preliminary approval to push back the right field wall 16 feet, extending out further into Sheffield Ave.

[PHOTOS: Proposed Wrigley Field renovation mock-ups]

The Ricketts family, the Cubs ownership group, has agreed to pay the $500 million to renovate Wrigley Field, but they've still had to seek approval -- from the city of Chicago and from the Lakeview neighborhood and surrounding rooftop owners -- every step of the way.

As part of the renovations, the Cubs were asking to play more night games during the season and to put up signs in the bleachers -- a huge video board in left field and an advertising sign in right.

[MORE: What Wrigley will look like after renovations]

But those have been the most contentious points, as the rooftop owners have pushed back against the video boards, worried the new additions would obstruct their view of the game.

"All we need is for the city to allow us to play some night games, produce the revenue that every other team does in signage in the outfield, basically run our ballclub just like the other 29 clubs," Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations, said in a presentation to Cubs season ticket holders Friday.

"That's proven to be a little more difficult than we thought. Typically, when you pick up the check, most people say 'thank you.' We've had a few hurdles that we have to get over."

[RELATED: MLB commissioner Bud Selig optimistic about Wrigley negotiations]

Kenney said he and the Cubs expect the rest of the hurdles to be crossed by the end of the year. The first major step in the renovation project is rehabbing the Cubs' home dugout and clubhouse, but that isn't expected to be completed by the start of the 2014 season.

"The holdup is legislative," Kenney said. "We need some freedoms to run the ballpark like the other 29 ballclubs. The city -- and certainly the mayor -- is working very hard to make this happen.

"I wish I could tell you the process was much quicker. It's been far too long, we agree with [Cubs fans]. We wish we could have started much sooner, but we're on our way."