Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has responded to last weekend’s announcement of the Cubs‘ revised Wrigley Field renovation plans, and it’s about the most positive thing he’s said about the Cubs plans in months. Though this may be that it’s mostly praise for himself:
“When I first started this discussion, the Cubs wanted $200 million in taxpayer dollars,” Emanuel told reporters. “I said, ‘No.’ Then they said, ‘We’d like $150 million taxpayer dollars,’ and I said, ‘No.’ Then they asked if they could have $100 million in taxpayer subsidies, and I said, ‘No.’ Then, they asked about $55 million in taxpayer subsidies. I said, ‘No.’ The good news is after 15 months, they’ve heard the word, ‘No.’”
Emanuel reiterated — twice — that there will be “no taxpayer subsidies” under this new proposal, which clearly indicates that he doesn’t consider rent-free use of public streets to be a subsidy. But he certainly does deserve props for driving a hard bargain, even if he was reportedly for subsidies to the Cubs before he was against them.
As for what the Cubs owners plan on doing with their renovation money, the Chicago Tribune has a large gallery of renderings, most of which go to show that 1) you can’t tell much from renderings, and 2) picnic tables with umbrellas are still the new black. Overall it looks not unlike a Fenway-style upgrade — squeeze in as much concession space and luxury seating as you can without mucking with the original historic structure — but I’d like to see some before-and-after images, especially of changes to the upper deck and club seating, before saying anything more.