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Restrictions on Wrigley Field renovation still there

Theo Epstegets Wrigley Field welcome from Cubs.

Theo Epstein gets a Wrigley Field welcome from the Cubs.

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Updated: May 3, 2013 6:37AM



PITTSBURGH — As the Cubs prepared for their season opener in Pittsburgh on Monday, team president Theo Epstein kept one eye on happenings back home related to an even-more-pressing issue: the Cubs-imposed deadline that came and went Monday without a deal to lift restrictions in and around the ballpark they say is needed to start their $300 million ballpark renovation on time.

As counterintuitive as it might seem for a big-market franchise such as the Cubs, the baseball-operations people are well aware that their ability to spend and compete long-term under ­Ricketts family ownership relies on the family increasing its ­already sizeable revenues.

“It’s fundamentally important to get us to the next level as an organization,” Epstein said Monday. “We have a baseball plan, and we have a business plan, and they’re timed to sync up with one another.

“They’re interdependent, and if we don’t get our Wrigley ­renovation done in a timely manner and done the right way, then we can’t accomplish our business objectives, and that will certainly get in the way of us ultimately accomplishing our baseball objectives.”

Though the Cubs are the most-profitable team in the ­majors, they also carry the most debt, both in terms of sheer dollars and as a percentage of franchise value, according to a recent Forbes report.

It puts the Cubs in violation of MLB’s debt-service rules.

The club seeks permission from the city to close Sheffield Avenue for game-day economic activity and to ease restrictions and circumvent a contract with rooftop owners to allow additional, large advertising signs and video boards in the ballpark.



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