“We don’t want to change it so people won’t come,” he said.
“We committed to a framework of an agreement, and today puts all parties one step closer to achieving the goals set forth in that framework,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing underlines the fact that Wrigley, famous for the storied billy goat curse and Babe Ruth’s called home run shot, is unlike any stadium in the United States.
In fact all the emotion about Wrigley was on display during the hearing that lasted nearly six hours. Supporters of the new signs echoed what Cubs officials have said: That the advertising revenues generated by the signs will help the team win and keep them from abandoning Wrigley Field.
“If the Cubs moved out of the city, it will devastate Wrigleyville,” said Cecil Bernard, a neighborhood resident.
But others scoffed at the notion the signs would help turn the Cubs into winners, noting similar talk surfaced before the Cubs erected lights at Wrigley in 1988. They also told the commissioners the changes threatened a singular live sports experience shared by generations of fans.
If the City Council approves the signs, the beginning of the major renovation project could begin as early as later this year. And if the signs do go up, everyone will be watching what they do to the views from the rooftops, where owner charge people to watch the games from bleachers built atop the buildings. The team is in the middle of a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement that calls for the rooftop owners to hand over to the Cubs 17 percent of their gross annual revenue.
Cutting into their views, say the owners, amounts to a violation of their contracts with the team.
The Cubs have said the signs would have a minimal impact on the rooftops and that the views would be “largely preserved.” They have pointed out that the massive left-field Jumbotron is in front of one of the few buildings that does not have rooftop bleachers.
At the same time, they’ve made it clear that minimal impact does not mean no impact, and if what they do to improve their business hurts the businesses that peek over their walls, so be it.