CHICAGO—The Chicago Landmarks Commission has signed off on the Chicago Cubs’ proposal to install large outfield video screens as part of its $500 million privately financed plan to renovate the landmark ballpark and build a new adjacent hotel and plaza.
The Chicago Plan Commission will take up the overall renovation and area redevelopment plan this week then the City Council must approve it. The Cubs have called the signage key to generating the revenue needed to forgo public financial aid in paying for the renovations and other adjacent development.
The commission approved signs that were smaller than initially proposed but still faced opposition from the local city council members and neighbors around the ballpark located on Chicago’s north side. The landmarks commission’s approval was needed for the changes because of the 99-year-old stadium’s landmark status.
The Major League Baseball club and Chicago announced the “framework” for the renovation plan and development of adjacent hotel and plaza this spring.
The Ricketts family, who bought the team in 2009, had initially sought public subsidies for a $300 million renovation. That proposal relied on bond financing through the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and diversion of some city amusement taxes to help with repayment.
The plan fell by the wayside with little city or state support. The team eventually scrapped it in favor of the more expansive one unveiled this spring that asks the city to ease various rules imposed on the ballpark and allow for additional signage and other interior changes to generate more revenue to fund the renovations.