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Wrigley deal hits snag, talks continue

View from Clark Addis Wrigley Field Friday  March 8 2013.  |  John H. White~Sun-Times

View from Clark and Addison at Wrigley Field, Friday, March 8, 2013. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 14, 2013 11:00PM



Marathon negotiations over a $500 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field and the land around it hit a snag Saturday over sign size rooftop compensation and the rooftops’ demand for an extension of their revenue-sharing agreement with the team.

In 2004, the Tribune Company signed a 20-year agreement with the rooftops requiring the clubs to share 17 percent of their revenues with the team.

The Ricketts family, who now owns the Cubs, wants out of that agreement. But the rooftops are insisting on an extension under the same revenue sharing terms.

The rooftops have threatened a lawsuit to stop any renovation plan that blocks their bird’s-eye view of the landmark stadium.

The agreement hammered out after months of negotiations by Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls for a Jumbotron in left field that would partially block two rooftops and another sign in right field that may or may not impair rooftop views.

The Cubs and the mayor’s office are searching for ways to compensate the rooftops owners for any loss of revenue tied to sign blockage. However, the Cubs are insisting that the rooftops owners agree not to file a lawsuit that would tie the renovation plan up in court.

Sources close to the rooftops fear the sign intended for right field may be as much as three times larger than the see-through Toyota sign in left field. If that happens, it could block several rooftop clubs in right field as well as left.

Those are the sticking points standing in the way of an agreement that would allow the Cubs to renovate the 99-year-old Wrigley Field, develop the McDonald’s property that is owned by the team across the street from the stadium and build an office building next door to Wrigley with an open-air plaza.

In addition to the new signs inside the ballpark, the agreement calls for 40 or more night games — up from the current 30 per season — and additional 3:05 p.m. starts and concert dates.

The hotel and open-air plaza would also have signage.

Emanuel desperately wants to deliver the agreement before Opening Day as the Cubs have demanded to avoid losing another construction season. The mayor also wants to deliver a project that would generate 2,000 jobs and $20 million a year in revenue for the city and state. That’s apparently why he’s personally involved in the negotiations still going on all weekend at City Hall.



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