05/01/2013 1:27 AM ET
Ricketts: Outfield signs vital for Cubs to stay at Wrigley
Chairman said club would 'have to consider moving' without additional signage
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team will have to consider other options, including moving out of Wrigley Field, if it cannot get approval for more ad signage in the ballpark, including a 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard proposed for left field.
Ricketts discussed the Wrigley renovations at a City Club of Chicago breakfast Wednesday. Ricketts has proposed a $300 million renovation plan for the 99-year-old ballpark and an additional $200 million investment in the community, including the building of a hotel across Clark Street.
The Cubs hope to get $20 million annually from the new outfield advertising. The signage has been opposed by rooftop owners who feel it will block their views, but Julian Green, vice president, communications and community affairs for the team, said Wednesday the latest scoreboard and signage were compromises after meetings with the city and community.
"I'm not sure how anyone is going to stop the signs in the outfield, but if it comes to the point that we don't have the ability to do what we need to do in our outfield, then we're going to have to consider moving," Ricketts said Wednesday. "It's as simple as that."
The Cubs filed their proposal for the entire project -- which includes Wrigley Field, the hotel, a plaza along Clark Street and a revamped restaurant and store at Addison and Sheffield -- with the City of Chicago Plan Commission on Wednesday. The next stage will be zoning meetings and meetings with the city Landmark Commission to make certain designs are up to code. There also will be public hearings, Green said.
Since the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs and Wrigley Field in October 2009, they have said they want to preserve the ballpark, which turns 100 in 2014.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward agreed to a framework of the renovation plan, which not only included more advertising, but also more night games.
The proposed video scoreboard will be three times larger than Wrigley Field's center-field scoreboard, and also will have built-in light banks to address a shortage of outfield lighting. The Cubs also want to add a 1,000-square-foot see-through sign in right field, similar to the Toyota sign now in left. Green said the Cubs wanted more but trimmed the amount of advertising in the outfield at the request of the city and alderman.
People on the rooftops behind the left-field bleachers will most likely not be able to see plays in right or center because of the video board. Green said they hope that placement of the board will have a minimal impact on the views.
Drawings of the video scoreboard were not revealed at the Cubs Convention in January because Tunney's office and the city were still discussing their options, Green said.
The additional lights with the scoreboard and advertising will not overwhelm the neighborhood, Green said, adding "it's a leap to suggest that it's Times Square," which has been one of the criticisms from the neighborhood.
"We are listening to the community, we want to be good neighbors," Green said. "At the same time, we want to generate revenue that's required to put back into the team. The proposal we set forth today, we believe it's a compromise, we believe it strikes a balance with the community. At the same time, we hope the community feels this is something that will enhance the quality of life and generate more business for [the] Lakeview [neighborhood]."
The renovation plan and neighborhood redevelopment plans are projected to be completed over a five-year period.
"We have to generate revenue," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said at the event. "We have to catch up to our large-market competitors on ballpark revenues, so this project has to work from a financial perspective as well."
The Cubs' renovations would begin this offseason, and the intent was to start with the home clubhouse area. However, Green said that may change depending on how long it takes to get approval of the plan. The home clubhouse would go from 13,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet and run from the left-field foul pole to the home dugout. The plan includes adding two batting tunnels and widening the dugouts.
The players won't be the only ones to benefit. The proposed renovations would increase concession space and the number of restrooms by 45 percent. Among the additions would be a restaurant behind the marquee on Clark and Addison that would be open 365 days per year. The current suites would also be expanded and upgraded.
The architects are making sure the proposed hotel and plaza integrate smoothly with the ballpark, Green said.
"This is a historic restoration," Kenney said. "This is not a renovation. This is not trying to make Wrigley new. It's actually trying to make Wrigley old."
DeJesus awarded home run after instant replay
CHICAGO -- Chicago's David DeJesus was given a home run in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 13-7 loss to the Padres after umpires reviewed the play.
With the Cubs trailing 10-4, DeJesus lined a 1-2 pitch off the electronic scoreboard in right field and was held up at second with a double.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum asked for a review, and after a fairly quick look at instant replay by the umpires, DeJesus was awarded the home run, his fourth. The ball clearly hit above the yellow line rimming the outfield wall.
It's the first time the Cubs have asked the umpires to use instant replay this season.
Borbon wears glove bearing lefty Lee's name
CHICAGO -- Check out Cubs outfielder Julio Borbon's glove. It has pitcher Cliff Lee's name stitched on it.
The glove was a gift from Lee after Borbon made a run-saving catch in a game on Sept. 20, 2010, while with the Rangers. Borbon sprinted to straightaway center field and jumped to take a grand slam away from the Angels' Juan Rivera in the third inning and keep the score 1-0. Borbon's teammates greeted him at the dugout with high-fives.
Lee wanted to reward the young outfielder, who told the pitcher how much he liked the shape of his glove. Borbon also saved the ball from that catch.
"It's the first grand slam I've robbed," Borbon said.
Lee was more than just a teammate on the Rangers.
"He gave me a lot of advice about how to go about the game," Borbon said.
Sveum to base closer decision on matchups
CHICAGO -- The Cubs still don't have a designated closer, and manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday they'll probably stick to the closer-by-committee approach when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the disabled list.
Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was to throw a bullpen on Thursday, and if all goes well, he would make a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
On Monday, Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save of the season. The Cubs have three pitchers with multiple saves, the first time that's happened in the first month in franchise history since the save became an official stat in 1969. Besides Gregg (four), Fujikawa has two and Carlos Marmol has two.
Sveum said he'll base his decision in save situations on matchups.
"I got [a closer]," Sveum said. "I just don't know who it's going to be every night."
Also available for late-inning duty are Shawn Camp and James Russell.
"Every given night it'll probably be three or four [pitchers]," Sveum said.
Cubs inviting fans to share their stories online
CHICAGO -- How committed are you to the Cubs? As part of the team's "Committed" marketing campaign, the Cubs are inviting fans to participate in the "Everyone Has a Story" online campaign at www.cubs.com/story.
The "Committed" ad campaign, launched in early March, features advertisements that tell stories from Cubs fans, including an Indianapolis couple who got engaged at Wrigley Field; a Chicagoan who triumphed over his wife to raise their son as a Cubs fan; and a South Side security guard who has the Cubs logo tattooed on the back of his head.
The "Everyone Has A Story" online campaign invites all Cubs fans to share their stories with submissions to be featured in a season-long online gallery. Fans can choose to upload their story in video format or as a photo-and-essay pairing at www.cubs.com/story.
"Chicago Cubs fans are some of the most passionate fans in all of sports, and we hear their amazing stories every day," said Alison Miller, Cubs senior director of marketing. "This campaign allows these fans to share their stories with each other and be recognized by the team for their unrivaled commitment."
• The Cubs have had 12 players hit at least one home run so far this season, the most among National League teams and tied for second most in the Major Leagues with the Indians and Rays.
Alfonso Soriano is one of the dozen players, but the Cubs had hoped he'd have more than one home run at this point.
"Last year, he was a victim of the wind blowing in every single day at home," Sveum said. "This year, you can't say that. He's swung the bat really well off lefties. Hopefully last night, hitting off that tough righty [the Padres' Brad Brach], that double, that was his best swing off a righty all year. Hopefully that can catapult him."
Soriano last homered on April 18; in 2012, he didn't connect until May 15. In April 2011, he set a club record with 10 homers in April. Sveum expects Soriano, 37, to deliver.
"That media guide doesn't lie when you have 600 plate appearances at the end of the year," Sveum said.
• Ian Stewart, on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, went 4-for-40 in 12 games.
"He's got to start swinging the bat better, have more consistent at-bats," Sveum said of the third baseman. "We'll wait and see."
Major League players are limited to 20 days per rehab assignment. Stewart's time expires on Friday.
"Right this second, I don't think I'm ready," Stewart told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday. "That's just me being honest and knowing myself as a player."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.