Cubs’ deal keeps Wrigleyville from leaving

CHICAGO (Nov. 2011) — With great relief, Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts today inked a deal with Wrigleyville residents to keep the neighborhood from leaving the area. The agreement ends threats by the surrounding community due the poor management of Wrigley Field and the baseball franchise.

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The 20-year pact requires the Cubs to invest $450 million to address local complaints about stadium aesthetics, declining property values and noise pollution. This includes long overdue stadium renovations, pest abatement and mandatory voice coaching for 7th Inning Stretch guest conductors.

“We’re thrilled the neighborhood will stay local. Without Wrigleyville’s appeal, our attendance would probably be worse than the White Sox and have entered a death spiral not seen since the days of Pete LaCock,” Ricketts said. “It’s a real win-win, and given the team’s recent performance, I’m ecstatic whenever we can string two wins together.”

Local complaints long centered on the need for a top-to-bottom facelift of the ballpark, which residents blame for area’s 20 percent decline in property values over the last four years.

“It’s an incredible eyesore and more rat-infested than an English heath,” said Chauncey O’Malley, owner of the I’ll Tap That Tavern on Sheffield. “For us property owners, it’s worse than living across from a bombed-out meth lab.”

The neighborhood weighed several incentives-laden offers to relocate. This included relocating the entire community to the former Santa’s Village campus in Dundee, with the village re-establishing most of the auctioned rides. To keep Wrigleyville in town, The City of Chicago and West Side TIF District answered with $45 million in relocation subsidies, property tax abatement and handicap placards for free metered parking, in exchange for moving to vacant parcels west of the United Center.

With the Cubs agreement, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney visibly breathed a sigh of relief. It sounded like this: "HHHhhhhhh."

Tunney praised the neighborhood for staying put and preventing 1,250 Wrigleyville jobs from leaving the area. He noted the deal also keeps approximately $800 million on city property tax rolls and preserves the city’s 10th-highest concentration of college graduates.

“Granted, most degrees are from state schools and achieved in five to six years, but Wrigleyville residents make vital, underpaid contributions to our city’s commercial life in the form of admins, HVAC repairmen, steakhouse hostesses and non-Union pipefitters,” Tunney said. “I'm confident this will keep us classed as a world-class city by organizations who organize those kinds of classiness rankings.”

The deal was finalized late last night with resolution of the last remaining issues:

  • The Cubs agreeing to clean the roofs of all property owners located under the daily flyway of sea gulls that feed in the Cubs outfield.
  • Neighborhood leaders relenting on demands for the Cubs to submit all proposed long-term player contracts for review by a local oversight board.
  • The Cubs fixing the stadium’s new energy-saving motion-detector system.
“Fixing those motion detectors will be big. Contractors mistakenly put the field lights on the same system. This causes the field lights to go on-and-off during night games,” Ricketts said. “It’s too expensive to re-wire the system, but we developed a good work-around. The motion detectors used to point at third base where Aramis Ramirez – who rarely moved on defense – previously had played, but we will turn the detectors toward the Cubs bullpen where activity is constant throughout the game.”

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