The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 15, 2013

City, Cubs push $500 million Wrigley renovation

(Continued)

The city and ball club said they hoped that the agreement would allow the Cubs to obtain necessary city approvals for the work by the end of the current baseball season.

The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans. With that out in the new agreement, the owners will seek to open new revenue streams outside the stadium. Under the agreement, the Ricketts family would be allowed to build a 175-room hotel, a plaza, and an office building with retail space and a health club.

Also included in the agreement are plans for 40 night games, four yearly concerts and easing of restrictions on smaller events. Currently the team plays about 30 night games. The plan also addresses chronic complaints about parking in the densely populated Wrigleyville neighborhood, including the addition of 1,000 "remote" parking spots that will be free and come with shuttle service.

"We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward," Ricketts said in the statement.

The site of Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run in the 1932 World Series and more heartbreak than Cubs fans would like to remember, the 99-year-old Wrigley is only younger than Boston's Fenway Park. It has long been a treasured showplace for baseball purists — night games were only added in 1988 — but team officials for years have desperately wanted a true upgrade, saying it costs as much as $15 million a year just to keep up with basic repairs.

The ballpark has also played no small part in the lore of the team, as fans were reminded April 10 when someone delivered a goat's head in a box addressed to team chairman Tom Ricketts. Neither the team nor the Chicago Police Department have talked about a possible motive for the strange delivery, but as every fan knows it was in the 1945 World Series when a tavern owner arrived at the park with his pet goat — which had a ticket. According to legend, the owner was told that the goat smelled and was denied entry. The angry tavern owner then put the "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Cubs — and the team has not been back to the World Series since.

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