Cubs unveil new drawings, expanded underground clubhouse

By Hal Dardick Clout Street

1:30 p.m. CDT, May 27, 2014

A top Cubs executive today unveiled drawings of the team’s latest revised proposal for the renovation of Wrigley Field, saying an expanded, underground clubhouse and other changes will add $75 million to the overall cost.

The 30,000-square-foot clubhouse, which would include a bi-level basement beneath a new plaza on the triangle-shaped property at the northeast corner of Clark Street and Waveland Avenue, would be second largest in Major League Baseball, according to Cubs President Crane Kenney. Only the New York Yankees would have a larger one, he said.

Kenney displayed renderings of the clubhouse, along with images of what the seven-proposed outfield signs, might look like. The presentation came as the team prepares to seek approval for the new signs and some additions to the bleachers next month from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks.

He said the organization has been working closely with city planners on designs that would comply with the city’s architectural landmark standards for the 100-year-old ballpark.

“We’ve been working for the last several months with (the city Planning Department) and Landmarks to show them our ideas, and take back their feedback,” Kenney said, adding that last year’s rulings by the Landmarks Commission that allowed two outfield signs established something of a blueprint for bigger plans. “We needed to make sure we fit into the ruling from last summer, which all of this does.”

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts announced last week that his team would soon seek city approval for plans that include more signs than those approved last summer. The seven-sign plan was the Cubs’ original proposal, before it was scaled back in an attempt to compromise with the owners of nearby rooftop clubs that have lucrative views into the ballpark.

But attempts to get a guarantee from all rooftop club owners that they would not sue the team hit an impasse, Ricketts said, so the Cubs decided to go forward with the team’s original plan, which would produce more revenue. That additional revenue would help in expanding the clubhouse and make up for less money the team expects from the revenue sharing agreement with the rooftop clubs, Kenney said today.

“If we can make more money with them, then we will,” Kenney said of the rooftop clubs. “If we can’t, we’ll make more money on our side of the street.”

The Cubs and rooftop owners have a revenue-sharing contract inked in 2003 that runs through 2023.

The clubhouse, and other improvements including a new 200-seat restaurant behind the home dugout, would boost the overall renovation cost to $375 million from the previously planned $300 million, team officials said. The Ricketts family also plan to build a hotel west of Clark and a plaza and office-retail building on the triangle property.

The new clubhouse would be spread out, with part of it remaining behind the home dugout, plus two new levels beneath the plaza linked by an underground tunnel.

Work on the triangle property to build the team’s new clubhouse, which does not require Landmarks approval, would start in July, Kenney said. Work on ballpark structure to accommodate the signs would begin at the end of the season, he added.

The entire project, if approved and not held up in court, would take four years to complete and be done by 2018, Kenney said. Owners of the rooftop clubs declined comment.

hdardick@tribune.com

Twitter @ReporterHal

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