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Mayor Rahm Emanuel cast himself as a defender of Chicago taxpayer money when he discussed the ongoing negotiations surrounding the Wrigley Field renovation Wednesday.
"The Cubs wanted $200 million in taxpayer dollars. I said, 'No,'" Emanuel said, according to NBC Chicago. "The good news is after 15 months they heard the word, 'No' and so we are at a point there will be no taxpayer subsidies for a private entity."
Emanuel has not signed off on the deal yet entirely, but acknowledged the economic importance of getting the renovation off the ground as soon as possible.
"Wrigley is important to the neighborhood and to the city—or at least a part of the city that likes to go there," Emanuel said according to ESPN.
On Jan. 19, the Ricketts family-owned Chicago Cubs unveiled a lofty renovation plan for the team's home turf, complete with a $300 million price tag that includes a clubhouse, more restrooms and a boutique hotel across from the ballpark.
The Ricketts family pulled a tax subsidy request from the plan but in return wants the city to ease up some restrictions in Wrigleyville, particularly the ones affecting game start times, billboards and signage.
In an interview with Crain's Chicago Business, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward encompasses Wrigleyville, slammed the Ricketts' plan as “a bunch of trial balloons,” and opposes the part of the plan that would add outfield billboards to effectively kill off the rooftop game-watching business.
Maybe the third time's the charm. Also, there's nothing really unique about Wrigleyville without the Cubs and it's not like the market's great for developers, so no, I don't think it's as cut and dry as the Cubs needing them more than they need the Cubs. It's definitely mutually beneficial. If Tunney is concerned about the rooftops - and not his pocketbook - well, really, the Cubs could probably still tell them to #### themselves now. I doubt that agreement is that iron clad.
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