An influential alderman has thrown a wrench into Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to renovate Wrigley Field to generate more revenue without leaving the city's taxpayers to pay the tab.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Monday lashed out against key aspects of Emanuel's so-called "Fenway plan" for the Chicago Cubs' 98-year-old North Side stadium. Tunney criticized the plan's call for new signage -- such as billboards -- or a Jumbotron that could potentially block the view of rooftop clubs nearby, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
"The rooftops and the owners of Wrigley have a unique partnership. They want to be protected long-term. They have a lot invested. The city has asked them to spend millions to keep their buildings safe. We’ve got to find ways they can both stay in business," Tunney told the Sun-Times of the mayor's proposal.
Further, Tunney spoke out against street closings for a new home game street festival as part of a letter sent to Wrigley Field area residents about proposed changes at the stadium, NBC Chicago reports.
"In my view, all of us involved in the negotiations should be concentrating our efforts on a plan that takes all of Wrigley Field's and Lakeview's unique qualities into perspective," Tunney wrote in the letter.
Tunney finally laid out several priorities he said he would like to see addressed "If the Ricketts family wishes to improve and expand Wrigley Field using amusement tax dollars." Those priorities include a commitment to the restoration of the CTA Sheridan Red Line El station, a dedicated police detail unit for all events at the ball park and a new, long-term agreement between the Cubs and nearby rooftop clubs, according to ABC Chicago.
Emanuel said last month that the city is in the "final stages" of conversations with the Cubs-owning Ricketts family concerning a Wrigley Field renovation plan that could include help from the city. He has hinted at the field's facelift as part of his broader plans to boost tourism in the city.
The mayor estimates that his proposal could generate an estimated $150 million in sponsorship and advertising revenue.
When previously asked about the negotiations between the Ricketts family and the city about Wrigley renovations, Tunney told Crain's Chicago Business "this is a deal that involves a lot of complexities" and denied the mayor's claim that the negotiations were nearing an end.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune last month that renovations to the ballpark will be "a win-win for the city, for jobs, tourism, for development."