The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 15, 2013

City, Cubs push $500 million Wrigley renovation

CHICAGO (AP) — The historic home of the Chicago Cubs will get a $500 million facelift, including its first electronic outfield video board, as part of a hard-fought agreement announced Sunday night between the City of Chicago and the ball team.

Wrigley Field also will host an expanded number of night games under the announced pact, as part of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts' plans to renovate the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues, boost business and make baseball's most infamous losers competitive again.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed what the two sides called a "framework" agreement in a joint statement issued Sunday night, noting that it includes no taxpayer funding. That had been one of the original requests of the Ricketts family in a long-running renovation dispute that at times involved everything from cranky ballpark neighbors to ward politics and even the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

"This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley) and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors," Emanuel said in a news release sent to The Associated Press.

Still uncertain was how the agreement will sit with owners of buildings across the street from Wrigley who provide rooftop views of the ball games under an agreement with the Cubs that goes back years. This month they threatened to sue if the renovations obstruct their views, which they claimed would drive them out of business. Messages left late Sunday with a spokesman for the rooftop owners were not immediately returned.

The statement from Emanuel's office says a "video board" is planned for left field and a second sign would be erected in right field patterned on an existing Toyota sign in left field. The statement does not indicate how large the video screen or second sign would be, saying only that "the Cubs will work with the city on placement of both ... to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the team's needs."

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