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Cubs unveil revised Wrigley restoration plan

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are, indeed, moving forward with the renovation and restoration of 100-year-old Wrigley Field.

Less than a week after Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts sent a letter and video to fans telling them the club is done negotiating with the rooftop owners and it's time to "put the team and fans first," the Cubs on Tuesday unveiled a revised plan with additional outfield signage, an expanded home clubhouse and the relocating of the home and visitors' bullpens to underneath the right-field bleachers.

"We can't delay any longer," Ricketts said in the video. "The time to build a winner is now."

The new proposal, which will go before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on June 5, includes four additional signs of up to 650 square feet, plus another 2,400-square-foot video board in right field. Another LED board will also be added in left field.

In addition, the previously-approved left-field video board will be 3,950 square feet instead of 4,500.

The Cubs have also adjusted the design modifications for the clubhouse. Currently, Cubs players utilize approximately 11,000 square feet, and the original expansion plan increased the clubhouse size to 19,000 square feet. The new plan further expands the clubhouse to 30,000 square feet and it will be located beneath the new outdoor plaza.

The visitors' clubhouse will also be expanded, and the home and visitors' bullpens will be moved from the field to an area under the expanded Budweiser Bleachers.

An additional club space down the third-base line and an auditorium with room to seat 200 will also be built.

Additional lighting structures will be added in left and right fields -- instead of on the left-field video board -- to increase visibility during night games. Wrigley Field is widely known to have some of the dimmest lighting in Major League Baseball.

The new proposal tacks on $75 million to the Cubs' $500 million plan that was approved in July 2013. The renovation will be privately financed by the Ricketts family.

If approved, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said materials will be ordered immediately, with groundbreaking on the plaza/clubhouse beginning in July. The renovation will take four years to complete, with the left-field video board being installed by Opening Day 2015 and the home clubhouse completed in time for the 2016 season.

Kenney said the Cubs anticipate approval from the Landmark Commission and the City, as the club has been in contact with them during the process.

The biggest issue remains the rooftop owners, who have threatened to sue if their views are blocked -- which is all but guaranteed now with the additional signage. After several months of unsuccessful negotiations with the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association, the Cubs are prepared for what's to come.

"They've said they're going to take this matter to the courts, and if they do, we'll meet them there," Kenney said. "But we're ready to get this project forward."

The Cubs and their lawyers maintain the rooftop owners have no case. The contract states that any city-approved expansion of the field is permitted, Kenney said. The rooftop association feels otherwise, but after countless failed talks, the Ricketts family and the Cubs have committed to going ahead with the revised plan.

"At some point you just make a decision," Kenney said. "I think our owner put it best: It's time to think about our players and maybe less about some of the other stuff. This is what we're going to do, and we're just going to do it."

Cubs manager Rick Renteria was impressed that the clubhouse would be expanded to 30,000 square feet.

"The organization is just trying to catch up to the rest of the baseball world in terms of amenities," Renteria said. "It certainly sounds like we'll have one of the premier facilities in the game."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.
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