Emanuel praises Wrigley reno plan, self for negotiating it

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.


3 comments on “Emanuel praises Wrigley reno plan, self for negotiating it

  1. Well given that post after post on this site shows that most politicians get bent over when negotiating with teams and owners, I think Rahm can hi-five himself.

    Not sure what the area around Fenway is like, but are the Cubs really going to benefit financially that much from having Addison and Waveland shut down? (Actually I think Waveland and Sheffield already get shut down on some game days). Anyway, there are roughly 6000 bars around Wrigley. Do the Cubs think they are going to syphon off business from the bars, particularly if they are charging ballpark prices ($8 and up) for beer?

  2. They may not siphon off business from the bars, but they will from local food outlets and souvenir stands. Or at least that’s how it’s worked for the Red Sox, who are now able to sell tons of sausages and other crap to fans before they enter the gates. (Or actually afterwards, since the “gates” are now in the middle of the street.)

    It’s the Camden Yards/Eutaw Street model: If you can’t fit more concessions in the ballpark, annex the street next to you and set up an open-air mall there.

  3. Neil, last I heard the Red Sox agreement with the city to use the streets around Fenway was up for renewal soon. If I remember rightly they paid a very very low fee for the use of the streets on game days… something like $2-3k per game.

    Any word on how the negotiations on a new agreement is going? It’s my understanding that the Red Sox have acknowledged that they are making ‘in excess of $2m’ annually from the business they do on the city’s property (which I assume means way, way in excess of that number). I’m not saying the city should get it all, but clearly there’s room to negotiate up.

    If Emmanuel has actually managed to get the Ricketts family to pay for their own renos, then I think he can congratulate himself (though one would hope that could be done privately…). I’ll wait to see what other shoes might drop… but if the ‘price’ of that concession is simply closing off streets that non-fans tend to avoid on game days anyway, that’s not so bad.

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