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Wrigley neighbors shrug off renovation debate between team and rooftop owners

John Hanks reacts proposed renovations for around Wrigley Field. Wednesday May 1 2013 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

John Hanks reacts to the proposed renovations for in and around Wrigley Field. Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 3, 2013 3:22PM

The idea of a world-class hotel just blocks away has appeal for many Wrigley Field neighbors, but the hot debate over outfield signs and rooftop views is of little concern, they say.

“What I care more about are building changes. Stuff to do with the field and signage and moving walls and all that, it doesn’t concern me,” John Hanks, 48, said.

Hanks has lived within walking distance of the ballpark for 20 years and said sprucing up the dated area has been a long time coming.

“It’ll be nice to have a world-class hotel around and some better shops,” he said. “I’d rather see the money going toward stuff like that to make the neighborhood better, and getting the area up to date a little.”

In the outfield signs vs. rooftop debate, Lake View resident Melissa Rottmann said that rooftop owners are aruging over something that wasn’t theirs to begin with.

“The analogy I’ve been making is that it’s like stealing cable for free and then charging your friends and neighbors to come over and watch TV,” Rottmann, 30, said. “They have a contract with the Cubs, but ultimately the Cubs own Wrigley and they can do what they want. It’s unfortunate that the rooftop owners might take a hit on their business, but this is like a fading relic. [Renovations are] going to have to happen at some point.”

But for Joyce Chow, 73, the area is far too developed already and the Ricketts’ renovation plans, while necessary, are too lofty.

“I don’t like the idea of the those big Jumbotrons,” said Chow, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years. “I think the neighborhood has lost a lot of character and it’s developing another. I guess I’m just nostalgic.”

On Wednesday morning, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said the team needed the millions in revenue the Wrigley Field renovations would generate or the organization would need to consider relocating.

“Obviously the new owner is not from the neighborhood,” Chow said. “I know he says he loves the Cubs and he loves the fans, but if he’s that quick to say he would move, I don’t think he’s really that much of a fan. This is a historic place.”

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