Cubs win backing for Wrigley ad sign, but could face new hurdle
BY DAVID ROEDER Business Reporter February 2, 2012 6:52PM
Artist rendering of the Budweiser Patio at Wrigley Field.
Updated: March 4, 2012 8:15AM
A landmark review panel gave the Chicago Cubs permission Thursday to install an advertising sign with game information above the wall in the ballpark’s right-field bleachers.
But the Cubs may need to jump through more hoops before making their latest change to the iconic ballpark. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he’s backing an ordinance that would force the Cubs to get City Council approval before installing the sign.
Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field, said the ordinance would apply to any electronic sign of at least 100 square feet. While he conditionally backs the sign, he wants the Cubs and city officials to agree on overall rules for future advertising within the park.
The sign, about 7„-by 75 feet, would be part of the Budweiser Bleachers near the right-field corner. Behind it would be a patio and seating area that would replace existing rows of bleachers.
The Cubs already have removed the old seats and hope to have the sign in place by Opening Day, April 5. Team spokesman Julian Green had no immediate comment on Tunney’s ordinance.
The new party deck reduces seating capacity in that section of the park to 156 from 252. But Cubs officials hope to make up the difference by getting premium prices for group access to what amounts to an in-park rooftop experience. The Budweiser Bleachers would have their own access from Sheffield Avenue.
A permit review committee of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the sign 3-2 over concerns that the Cubs are making small-scale changes to the park that add up to a profound difference.
Two years ago, the team installed a Toyota sign over the left-field bleachers and ads have popped up elsewhere. For decades, the park had no advertising, and reverence for its old-school look led to the landmark rules.
Committee members disagreed over whether the Cubs should be required to consent to rules involving future signs. They were prepared to defer approval until staffers summoned Tunney to their meeting.
Critics, including Lincoln Park resident Allan Mellis, asked the city to be firm with the Cubs. “How many additional advertising signs must be installed before the landmarks commission realizes that Wrigley Field has been robbed of its history and character?” Mellis said to the panel.