Tunney opposes Sheffield deck, continuing dispute over Wrigley Field
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter September 4, 2013 4:34PM
Updated: September 4, 2013 6:42PM
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Wednesday ruled out resolving the dispute between the Cubs and rooftop club owners standing in the way of renovating Wrigley Field by allowing a deck that would hover over and darken Sheffield Avenue.
Tunney said he opposes the nearly block-long Sheffield deck for the same reason he nixed a proposed pedestrian bridge over Clark Street.
“I’ve been opposed to liquor over a public street.… I have not been supportive of decks over any street — Patterson, Clark and/or Sheffield,” said Tunney, whose ward includes Wrigley Field.
“Initial reactions to my office have been opposed. The community has been opposed to bridges over everything.”
In late July, the City Council gave the Cubs the go-ahead to rebuild 99-year-old Wrigley and develop the land around it. The $500 million project would be primarily bankrolled by a video scoreboard in left field and a see-through sign in right.
But Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts was adamant that construction would not begin until rooftop club owners agree not to file a lawsuit blocking the project.
Last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Wrigleyville community leaders opened the door to resolving the dispute by allowing the massive deck over Sheffield Avenue.
A rooftop club owner first suggested the Sheffield deck — and the right-field sign behind it — but it was confined to just a couple of buildings. That would require the right-field wall to be extended outward at least twice as much as previously planned — taking out a lane of traffic, instead of just a sidewalk.
The Cubs countered with a much larger deck that would extend for most of the block, but only if the rooftops agreed not to sue. The team subsequently threatened to put up the right-field sign immediately if the stalemate drags on.
On Wednesday, Tunney acknowledged that the Cubs “have a right” to put up the right-field sign any time they choose.
And Cubs spokesman Julian Green reiterated the threat after acknowledging that negotiations with the rooftops were going nowhere.
“As we go into the off-season, this is the time when we talk to our corporate partners. If there is an interest and a potential suitor for that right-field sign, we might find an opportunity to pull the trigger,” he said.
As for Tunney’s opposition to the Sheffield deck, Green said, “This was an idea proposed by the rooftop owners in an effort to move that right-field sign back [and avoid blocking rooftop views]. We thought this could be a potential solve for [killing] the bridge over Clark Street. If there’s no support for that idea, then we’re back to Square One.”
Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Wrigleyville Rooftops Association, said, “Our position has been crystal clear — we are opposed to any proposal that blocks our views and violates our contract.”