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Cubs announce $300 million Wrigley Field renovation project (photos)

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(Chicago Cubs)

The Chicago Cubs began the process of updating Wrigley Field by adding a rooftop patio and installing an LED scoreboard prior to the 2012 season. Now the team plans on going all the way with its renovations to the near 100-year-old stadium, announcing a $300 million project on Saturday during its yearly Cubs convention.

It’s an ambitious plan that probably won’t sit well with those who would like to see Wrigley Field's classic look and atmosphere preserved, but the team is prepared to go forward with it beginning next winter. The Cubs also say the project could take up to five offseasons to complete.

The next order of business, though, will be sorting out the funding. Right now it sounds like the Cubs would be willing to pick up most of the expenses, but they'd also like the city to contribute by easing some of the restrictions on the ballpark. That includes but is not limited to approving more signage inside the park, which would open advertising opportunities and make it easier to maximize profits.

[Springboard: Cubs in full rebuilding mode in 2013]

From the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Saturday the team is willing to pay for much of its renovation plan if the city will ease some of the restrictions surrounding Wrigley Field.

“The fact is that when you look at all of the limitations that we have, whether that’s signage in the outfield, which we are not allowed to do, or what kind of stuff we do in the park or around the park, I think we’d just like a little more flexibility to have some options on that stuff,” Ricketts told the media after a question-and-answer session with fans at the Cubs Convention.

“We have an opportunity cost there that’s tremendous. Just give us some relief on some of these restrictions, and we’ll take care of (renovating) Wrigley Field.

The Tribune story notes that Ricketts will continue looking at other alternatives for funding of the project, and will also keep the line of communications open with Mayor Rahm Emanuel as they attempt to find a compromise.

“I hope (we’re close),” Tom Ricketts said. “I think everyone has an incentive. We lost a year this year. We want to get the project rolling. It’s a big economic development for the city. It’s a lot of jobs. It’s something everyone should have incentive to want to get done.”

Ricketts and company have also proposed building a hotel next to Wrigley Field in an attempt to enhance their bid for tax incentives and other government assistance to help pay for the project. That would go on the land they acquired from McDonald's Corp. in 2011.

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(Chicago Cubs)

Here's a little more on the proposed improvements as revealed by Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney.

Among the proposed improvements the Cubs revealed are larger concourses, additional restaurants, more bathroom and concession areas, expanded suites and amenities for the players, including a larger home clubhouse, batting cages and additional training facilities. A new roof would replace the wooden roof, new seats would be installed and the façade would return to its 1930s-era luster.

Oh, and there might be one more thing.

That's the one they may have a difficult time selling to old-school fans, which could explain why it's under consideration and not set in stone.

Check out the Tribune piece we've referenced already for more details on the Cubs' renovation plans. You can also view more illustrations at the Lake View Patch.

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