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Mock-ups of controversial sign, video board go up at Wrigley Field

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Updated: June 30, 2013 6:37AM

The Cubs on Tuesday erected mock-ups of the controversial right field sign and left field video board — giving concerned rooftop club owners and the local alderman a taste of what the permanent structures at Wrigley Field may look like.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who was there when the mock-ups went up, said, “It looks big.”

“There’s going to be an impact,” he said.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said, “while there is some impact, we think the great majority certainly will be able to still enjoy views within the ballpark. At this point, we have to figure out how to best minimize that impact.”

Rooftop owners were among the spectators looking on as metal struts with green plywood letters to simulate the sign and a large black mesh screen to mimic the video board went up.

One rooftop owner who declined to give his name said the effects on views from his business was definitely “not minimal.”

“It’s very troubling,” he said. “After all the money I’ve put into the building, it will greatly affect my business, if not put me out of business.”

The Cubs plan to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the land around it under a “framework” unveiled last month that includes a 5,000-square-foot video scoreboard in left field; an 800-square-foot see-through sign in right field; 40 night games; street fairs on weekend game days, and signage all over a new hotel and open-air plaza.

Wrigleyville Rooftops Association spokesman Ryan McLaughlin said in a statement, “We appreciate the Cubs’ willingness to demonstrate the impact of their sign plan. We were shown several options today, which we will verify with the permit applications they have submitted to the City of Chicago.”

The group has proposed to have digital signs installed on the rooftops themselves and said Tuesday, “Signs on the Rooftops have no obstruction of our patrons’ views and remain the best solution to provide sign revenue to the team.”  

Rooftop club owners who were not party to the negotiations have threatened to file a lawsuit, calling the outfield signs a “direct violation” of their 17 percent revenue-sharing agreement with the team and a landmark ordinance that protects the “uninterrupted sweep of the bleachers.”

Meanwhile, Green, the Cubs spokesman, said the benefit of Tuesday’s test is that now, “we’re not dealing in the unknown anymore.”

Tunney said it’s important to get an idea of how the latest additions to Wrigley will affect the neighborhood.

“I think the city was interested,” Tunney said. “I was more interested. And so were the immediate neighbors.”

The mock-ups were removed Tuesday afternoon.

Several hurdles remain before the permanent changes are made.

Among them, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks must approve the new stadium signage while the City Council must approve other parts of the plan.

Contributing: Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman

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