Cubs take new swing at long-stalled triangle building
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com June 4, 2011 12:06AM
The original 2005 rendering of the long-stalled triangle building planned for the west side of Wrigley Field.
Updated: July 8, 2011 3:27PM
The temporary ice-skating rink next door to Wrigley Field that’s become a winter favorite for area residents could someday find a permanent outdoor home there.
Starting next week, the Cubs will survey thousands of Wrigleyville neighbors to find out what features they would like to see included in the long-stalled triangle building promised in exchange for a 1,791-seat bleacher expansion.
The original plan called for a seven-story building that included a 400-space parking garage topped by a quaint rooftop garden. The design also featured an upscale restaurant, retail stores specializing in Cubs merchandise, team offices and below-ground batting cages.
The electronic survey will ask area residents whether they would prefer a smaller building with fewer parking spaces, leaving room for more open space and a permanent outdoor skating rink.
They’ll be specifically asked how they feel about an outdoor cafe, a farmer’s market, a bowling alley, movie theater or boutique hotel.
Mike Lufrano, Cubs general counsel and executive vice president of community affairs, said the survey results will guide the redesign of a project that had a $100 million pricetag in 2005, but may have doubled in price since then.
“We can’t make promises on what will be built. But groups we’ve met with so far like the idea of some changes to the original design,” Lufrano said.
“Some like the ice skating rink [so much], they’d like us to build a permanent one. Others have said not to build as much parking right at the corner of Clark and Addison, but maybe see if there are better parking alternatives” closer to the Kennedy Expy.
The triangle building already has been redesigned once by former Cubs owner and Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell. Now, it’s back on the drawing board as Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts seeks to revive his stalled plan to use 35 years’ worth of amusement tax growth to finance a $210 million Wrigley renovation.
A taxpayer-subsidized stadium renovation plan would keep the Cubs at Wrigley for at least 35 years and pave the way for the Ricketts family to invest $200 million of their own money in the triangle building.
But Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called the plan a “non-starter” and sent the Cubs back to the drawing board in search of financing alternatives.
Earlier this week, sources said the Cubs met with Emanuel’s Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott to discuss a short list of options that might include reviving Zell’s failed plan to have the state buy and renovate Wrigley.
Other possibilities include: modifying the amusement tax plan to give the city some growth; creating a tax-increment financing district around Wrigley; using historic preservation tax credits or broadening the boundaries of a 1 percent tax on downtown restaurant meals used to finance McCormick Place. That tax currently extends as far north as Diversey.
Another, more controversial idea is the sale of personal seat licenses similar to the Soldier Field PSLs that helped provide the Bears contribution to their taxpayer-supported stadium.
During a luncheon address last year to the City Club of Chicago, Ricketts cracked the door open to Wrigley personal seat licenses.
“I won’t rule them out, only because I don’t know what it’s gonna take to really save Wrigley. It may be a financing option that makes sense for us down the line,” Ricketts said at the time.
If the Cubs can’t get any taxpayer assistance, there’s one more possibility: scrap the triangle building altogether and pump all of their money into the landmark stadium.