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Cubs unveil latest Wrigley expansion plans

Old 06-21-04, 09:55 PM
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Cubs unveil latest Wrigley expansion plans

Tribune staff reports

June 18, 2004, 4:07 PM CDT


The Chicago Cubs today announced revised plans to develop the area surrounding Wrigley Field, with a multi-use structure with dining and parking to be built west of the ballpark.

The ball club filed its plans with the city this morning and hopes to resolve by year's end such issues as a controversial bleacher expansion, and whether the team or the city owns a strip of land just west of Wrigley that would be part of the project, officials said.

Even if all the outstanding issues are settled by the end of the year, though, "chances are we would not begin construction until after the 2005 season at the earliest," said Mike Lufrano, vice president of community affairs for the North Side team.

Speaking at a news conference to announce the plans, Lufrano acknowledged a "variety of opinions in the neighborhood" over the proposed expansion, and said the team looked forward to working with its neighbors, including the owners of private rooftop seats who have opposed the bleacher expansion.

"This represents the final pieces of the plan we really proposed starting in 2001 to improve Wrigley Field and the campus surrounding the ballpark, to add amenities and things that will help our fans, our players and our community," Lufrano said.

The Cubs are owned by the Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune.

A triangular, four-story, multi-purpose building with a rooftop garden with a theme restaurant, retail shops, restrooms and parking for up to 400 vehicles would be built on the block west of the park, east of Clark Street and south of Waveland Avenue, officials said.

That area is now occupied by surface parking, a car wash and a doughnut shop.

The parking garage would be open to local residents and businesses on non-game days, Lufrano said.

The new building also would contain underground player development facilities, including batting cages, pitchers' mounds and practice facilities, officials said.

A pedestrian parkway, open year-round to the public and to fans on game days, would fill the space between the new building and the ballpark, Lufrano said. The ownership of this area, however, is uncertain.

The land formerly was a railroad right-of-way. The Cubs acquired it in 1982. But the city has disputed that transaction, saying the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad had no right to sell what really was city-owned property, a long-vacated street the city let the railroad occupy in the 19th Century.

A potentially thornier issue, though, is the team's plans for 1,980 new bleacher seats on structures extending over the sidewalks along Sheffield and Waveland Avenues east and north of the park, respectively.

Lufrano noted the team's latest proposal is down from 2,600 seats in the team's original expansion plan, later reduced to 2,100 seats and, in 2002, to 1,980. Still, city officials at the time rejected the expansion plan.

He said the 1,980 new bleacher seats would be "a very small increase, about 5 percent of our current capacity."

Also, the latest plans eliminate all but four support columns for the new bleachers—two each on Waveland and Sheffield. Lufrano said, "They're located in areas where the sidewalk is 24 to 26 feet wide, so they really don't interrupt pedestrian traffic and shouldn't have any negative impact."

To reassure those who have contended the area beneath the bleachers would be dark and unsafe, Lufrano said lighting and security cameras would be installed beneath the seats, "so we think there will be a real improvement."

Ivy would cover exterior brick walls. The bleacher project also would include a "batter's eye" restaurant, air conditioned and enclosed in tinted glass, in the center field.

The neighborhood concerns helped stall the renovations, which the Cubs originally hoped to have completed by the start of the 2002 season. The city council also gave the ballpark landmark status, making it harder to make changes to it.

The city gave the Cubs permission in February to add up to 30 night games over the next three years after the club agreed to spend more money to address congestion, litter and other game-related problems. The Cubs also settled a federal lawsuit with rooftop owners in April.

Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bleachers, a tavern just beyond the center field wall, said she worries that an expansion might detract from the aesthetics of the ballpark and that more fans would further clog the congested neighborhood.

"I would rather they not expand," Murphy said. "We haven't seen the impact of the additional night games on the neighborhood. I think it's too soon to be looking at yet another change to the ballpark."

Tribune staff reporter Gary Washburn and Associated Press contributed to this story.




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Old 06-21-04, 09:59 PM
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Wow that looks like ass.
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Old 06-21-04, 10:00 PM
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Booo!!!
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Old 06-21-04, 10:00 PM
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ummmm
thats terrible


I didnt read it
are those seats suppose to be able to see the game???
or just more shops to try and make money on?
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Old 06-21-04, 10:05 PM
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If you look closely at the first pic, it seems like the rooftops will remain intact. However, the bleachers will be expanding over the sidewalk, and I'm sure they'll be up a little higher than the current seats, so you might not be able to see any of the game until you are truly on the rooftop (right now, you could watch the game from the 2nd level, which is slighly above the current bleachers).

Ack. I think in Chicago politics, when expansion plans are announced to the public, the important parties have already been convinced and are going to vote in favor of the plans. Take a look at the new Soldier Field timeline -- once the public found out about the plans, architechure firms were working on the design for over a year (I know this personally because I had a roommate that worked on the structural portion of the stadium)
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Old 06-21-04, 10:19 PM
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If they do anything, they need to fix up the outside of the existing ballpark structure - it looks like shit, imo.
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Old 06-22-04, 04:24 AM
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Originally posted by B.A.
If they do anything, they need to fix up the team that plays in that park
FIXED

I dunno looks nice to me
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Old 06-22-04, 08:51 AM
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Originally posted by Canadian Bacon
FIXED

I dunno looks nice to me


I thought the inside of the place was okay looking, but the outside of the park was an eyesore - it could use a facelift.
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Old 06-22-04, 09:15 AM
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What the hell B.A.? It's the most beautiful ballpark in the country.

Seriously. Tell me what you think is wrong with it.
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Old 06-22-04, 10:15 AM
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Originally posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc.
What the hell B.A.? It's the most beautiful ballpark in the country.

Seriously. Tell me what you think is wrong with it.
I don't really have a problem w/ the inside, but I think the exterior looks like shit (particularly behind the infield to the left and right of the of the Wrigley marquee). My wife said the same thing (and she has been a Cubs fan her whole life). We both thought it looked better on tv, in photos, etc...

In fact, we were there two years ago to the day to see our first game at Wrigley and we said that they should fix up the exterior of the stadium as we walked around the whole thing. It appeared as if it was about to fall apart, the paint/the wood/ etc...

And I am not saying this as a Cardinals fan, I'm just being honest. It's awesome that the Cubs and their fans have been able to go to the same place for 90 years, but they shouldn't be afraid to spruce the place up as time goes on.
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Old 06-22-04, 10:38 AM
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Re: Cubs unveil latest Wrigley expansion plans

Originally posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc.

Maybe I am looking at this picture incorrectly, but I don't see what is so wrong with this. The new building is depicted to the 3rd base side of WF. It doesn't interfere with the rooftop/buildings/views in the outfield. What's the big deal?
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Old 06-22-04, 10:46 AM
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Re: Re: Cubs unveil latest Wrigley expansion plans

Originally posted by Red Dog
Maybe I am looking at this picture incorrectly, but I don't see what is so wrong with this. The new building is depicted to the 3rd base side of WF. It doesn't interfere with the rooftop/buildings/views in the outfield. What's the big deal?
I don't know what the big deal is either. It's not like they are tearing the ballpark down.
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Old 06-22-04, 11:32 AM
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They are flushing the entire 3rd base side. Take a look -- that glass structure along 3rd base side attached to the current stadium (not the free standing building on 3rd base side)

Plus. 400 parking spots? Half the fun of coming to Wrigley is finding parking.
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Old 06-22-04, 11:56 AM
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Originally posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc.

Plus. 400 parking spots? Half the fun of coming to Wrigley is finding parking.
A friend of mine told me that if you have a way to get out the back(like an SUV), they squeeze you in so tight you can't open the doors. Sounds like "fun" to me.
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Old 06-22-04, 11:59 AM
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Why would anyone drive to Wrigley?

I still don't see what looks so bad about it. Of course, artist renderings may not be particularly accurate.
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Old 06-22-04, 10:29 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
Why would anyone drive to Wrigley?
My thoughts exactly. We drive to a suburb west of Chicago and take the train.
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Old 06-22-04, 10:55 PM
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Ack. I think in Chicago politics, when expansion plans are announced to the public, the important parties have already been convinced and are going to vote in favor of the plans.
Thats not how it works for the Cubs. The neighborhood is pretty powerful and Daly really isn't in the Trib's pocketbook. They have stopped the expansion for years and the newest version is stripped down.

Having said that, it doesn't look that bad. The rooftops will still be able to see, they just signed a multimillion dollar deal with the Cubs and the Cubs know they need the rooftops support for any deal.

The biggest deal of course is the development on the West side, which needs something as nothing is there right now.

I actually think its OK
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Old 06-23-04, 09:04 AM
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The building itself is not a bad idea...I cannot really tell what it will look like in person. If it looks too modern it will like crap. That triangle area is an eyesore right now as it is. Definitely need to do 'something' with the lot.

It also seems like they are going to update the outside of the actual ballpark as well (from what I can tell from the drawing) where the new building would be.

Adding a few more bleachers is okay and like having the ivy on the exterior of the park. As BA said (although the 3rd and 1st base sides seem okay to me) the outfield exterior is not attractive at all.

The restaurant in center field bothers me. Why would anyone want this?

And Chi...there is nothing fun about driving to Wrigley...You must be sadist ... I always take the El.
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Old 06-23-04, 09:18 AM
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I don't even take the El to the stadium....

Spoiler:
I walk
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Old 06-23-04, 10:18 AM
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They have to be really careful. People LOVED the Chicago Blackhawks stadium and packed it every night. When they moved into the new one. Blah. They should really avoid modernizing too much...
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Old 06-24-04, 11:44 PM
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I think it looks great as well. That glass building even has a retro look to it.
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Old 06-25-04, 02:51 PM
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Just received this e-mail ...

Dear Neighbor:

We thought you might be interested in some additional information in connection with our request for a change in zoning to permit certain improvements to Wrigley Field and its surrounding area. In the months ahead, we will be discussing these plans with our community and will keep you posted as discussion progresses regarding this next phase of our plans.

The Planned Development filed today with the City of Chicago represents the final piece of the plan proposed more than three years ago to improve the Wrigley Field campus. These plans reflect input from our community, the City of Chicago and our local aldermen over the past three years and represent our continued commitment to the future of Wrigley Field.

The proposed improvements will enhance the look of Wrigley Field from the outside - upgrading the stadium facade on Sheffield and Waveland avenues, widening sidewalks on Clark street, landscaping sidewalks around the entire ballpark and replacing the car wash and former donut shop on underutilized land west of the ballpark \with an attractive new multi-purpose building and open-air pedestrian parkway.

The multi-purpose building will complement the look of Wrigley Field. The plan includes a multi-level parking garage with spaces available to residents and businesses on non-game days, additional restrooms accessible from the building's exterior to address fan needs and community concerns, wider sidewalks to ease pedestrian traffic on Clark Street and a themed restaurant for fans and neighbors to enjoy year-round. The pedestrian parkway between the new building and Wrigley Field will add much-sought open space to our neighborhood on non-game days. Players will benefit from state-of-the-art batting cages, indoor pitcher's mounds and other facilities located underground.

The filing also incorporates the Cubs' request to renovate and expand the Wrigley Field bleachers. As evolved through three years of discussion with the City and the community, bleacher renovation would blend seamlessly with existing seating and add new restrooms, concessions, the first-ever disabled seating areas in the bleachers and a "batter's eye" restaurant in center field where fans could view games through tinted glass from an air-conditioned space. In addition to our discussions with community residents, the Cubs are working to discuss the bleacher design with owners of rooftop businesses and will continue to do so as the Planned Development process proceeds.

Outside, the bleacher renovation would add ivy and other greenery on currently-bare brick walls and include new brick-paved sidewalks along Sheffield and Waveland, improve the look of the bleacher entrance on Sheffield and Waveland avenues, and enhance lighting and 24-hour security monitors. In response to community input, we have looked to design options that would reduce the number of columns required in the sidewalks on Sheffield and Waveland.

This filing begins the discussion process, though final approval for renovation requires authorization of both the Chicago Plan Commission and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Simultaneous with this proposal, the Cubs are working with the City to resolve an ownership dispute regarding a parcel of land west of Wrigley Field. The Cubs will continue to work with the City and the community through the Planned Development process. Even if approved, construction on the proposed improvements is not likely to begin before 2005.

We are moving forward at this time because enhancing the ballpark and our campus is important to the future of Wrigley Field. Modest improvements to Wrigley Field are a part of its history and its charm - the addition of lights, mezzanine suites and new seats behind home plate all seamlessly blend the new with the old. These proposed new improvements will enhance the tradition of Wrigley Field and help the Cubs compete on the field.

We pledge to continue to work diligently with our community to maintain a strong, cooperative relationship. Our efforts in the last few years have led to important new neighborhood protections, including new and expanded remote parking, trash pick-up, additional police and traffic management presence and commitment of other resources to address issues raised by our community.

We hope you will support us in these efforts and look forward to continuing a winning partnership for the Cubs and our community.

Sincerely,
Michael R. Lufrano
Vice President, Community Affairs
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Old 06-25-04, 06:32 PM
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Originally posted by solipsta
They have to be really careful. People LOVED the Chicago Blackhawks stadium and packed it every night. When they moved into the new one. Blah. They should really avoid modernizing too much...
Doesn't help that ownership/mgmt has turned the team into shit, either.
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Old 06-25-04, 06:35 PM
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Originally posted by nevermind
Doesn't help that ownership/mgmt has turned the team into shit, either.
Or never show the home games on TV...what the hell is that?
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Old 06-25-04, 06:38 PM
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Originally posted by Flashback
Or never show the home games on TV...what the hell is that?
Hell their attendance would be even less if they did that


Seriously, I don't think Wirtz cares if there's only 9,000 at a game as long as they drink. He owns the liquor distribution company that supplies the UC. There's a chance the alcohol you may drink at home watching the game might not make him any money, you know.
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