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April 16, 2012
Emanuel's Wrigley reno plan to include Fenway-style ads and street closings?
Today's Chicago Sun-Times as a story claiming to reveal new information about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to finance a renovation of Wrigley Field, apparently through the intermediary of Chicago-based sports industry consultant Marc Ganis. The Sun-Times, citing "sources" (though later mentioning Ganis by name), reports that "Emanuel is pushing a plan to relax the ballpark's landmark status and allow the Cubs to wring as much as $150 million in advertising and sponsorship revenues out of the stadium and surrounding streets" through a Fenway-style plan that would add new advertising boards and allow the Cubs to take over neighboring streets for concessions on game days, a la Boston's Yawkey Way.
So, $150 million, huh? Is that present value, or over 30 years, or what? The Sun-Times ("2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner!" as their masthead proclaims) doesn't bother to say, which leaves it unclear how much of the projected $400 million renovation price tag (half of which Ricketts wants paid for by someone not named Ricketts) would be covered. Ganis — who generally falls on the "new stadium deals are groovy, yum yum!" side of these things — further adds that "it would be unprecedented for government to get a piece of advertising and sponsorship revenues," implying that a cut of the new ad money would go to the city, though maybe he just means that it would go to the city to pay their share of the Cubs' renovation costs, which would be less unprecedented.
The Sun-Times also repeated its anonymously sourced assertion that Emanuel will approve kicking back future amusement taxes to the Cubs owners, but that the team will also agree to a minimum tax payment per year, which would take a bit of the sting out of that subsidy. How much of a sting is as yet unknown — as is everything about this Wrigley reno deal. The Pulitzers really haven't been the same since they started handing them out for "Juiciest Unsourced Rumor."