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Cubs unveil 5-year fix-up plan for Wrigley Field

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Chicago Cubs unveil a five-year plan to fix up Wrigley Field and owner Tom Ricketts says he's confident work can begin as early as October.

At the friendly confines, the Cubs faithful weighed in.

"I want to see them keep the base of Wrigley Field, but you've got to renovate it," said fan John Martin.

"You hear it, and you're like, 'no way, we don't want it,'" said fan Rick Regal. "But it definitely needs bits and pieces."

The sweeping plan was unveiled by team executives at the cub's Convention.

The changes would include new concession areas, more restrooms, structural upgrades and new seating.

"It's going to preserve Wrigley Field for generations of cubs fans who get to see what you see every day and what some of our grandparents saw when they were in the ball park," said Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations.

"I'm not going to have to stand in line for 20 minutes to go to the restroom. I'm not going to stand in line for a half hour to get a bag of popcorn," said Cubs fan Douglas Denham.

Cubs players will also get a new, modern clubhouse, complete with fitness facilities and batting tunnels.

"I think the better you treat your players and the more amenities they have, I think they're certainly going to reciprocate in kind," said Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer.

But how to pay for the $300 million project?

The team says it will now foot the bill and drop its years-long request for public dollars, if the city agrees to ease landmark restrictions at the nearly century-old park.

That would allow the cubs to raise more money through signs and advertising.

"This project when completed over five off seasons will create 2,100 jobs," Kenney said. "It's going to create 1.2 billion dollars of economics for the city, state, and county."

The Cubs also want to turn Sheffield Avenue into a street festival location before games, similar to what fans experience at Boston's Fenway Park.

Derek Schultz lives on the block and says he supports the plan if it's done right.

"We're not going to turn this into Bourbon Street hopefully," he said. "It gives the fans another something else to do. And maybe they can do something for the kids." Whether the city is ready to play ball on the easing of the landmark restrictions remains unclear. The Ricketts family and Mayor Emanuel have feuded publicly in the past year and Saturday a spokesperson for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.

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