Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has finally revealed how much Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts will have to pay to expand the Wrigley Field bleachers out ten feet onto public streets: nothing. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
The Emanuel administration initially promised an appraisal to determine the appropriate level of compensation.
That’s the normal policy whenever street, sidewalk and alley “vacations” are done for developers.
On Wednesday, City Hall reversed field: There will be no appraisal, because no additional compensation will be required.
A top mayoral aide disclosed that the $4.75 million the Cubs have promised Wrigleyville — including $1 million to build a park on School Street and $3.75 million over 10 years for neighborhood infrastructure projects of the community’s choosing — would be enough.
If you count that $4.75 million as payment, it sounds not great but not terrible — about the equivalent of the $7.34 million the Boston Red Sox are paying for use of Yawkey Way, though that’s also been criticized as too cheap. (I don’t think the Cubs deal would include paying for use of the street for concessions on game days, but the Sun-Times article isn’t specific about this.) Counting it as the Cubs’ fee for taking up street space, though, seems a bit unfair given that it’s already been promised as a team contribution in exchange for other concessions — the Cubs’ own website describes it as a way to “give back to the community and invest in Lakeview’s future” and to compensate the neighborhood for allowing more night games and concerts.
We’d have a better sense of how cushy a deal this is for Ricketts if the city would appraise the value of the land rights, but since Emanuel has said he won’t be doing this, we can only guess. (I’m giving it a 6.5 on the cushometer.) All this is expected to be rubber-stamped voted on after serious debate at an October 16 city council meeting, after which Ricketts can go back to not starting any renovation work until he’s arm-twisted local rooftop owners into agreeing not to sue him. It’s a tough life, but I guess anything’s better than spending the next six months looking at Starlin Castro’s stat line.