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Chicago Landmark Commission set to Vote on Wrigley Field Rennovations

The Chicago Landmark Commission on Thursday will consider a long awaited proposal to renovate historic Wrigley Field, the second oldest ballpark in the country.

The commission will review plans for adding several signs in the outfield along with an expansion of the bleachers and new outfield lighting to the park, which celebrated its 100th birthday this year.

The project is expected to take four off-seasons to complete and promises to bring jobs and a better atmosphere for visitors and players at Wrigley Field.

In an announcement in June, the Cubs stated that they anticipate the commission will approve proposed renovations.

However, a representative from the Department of Planning and Development, which the Historic Preservation Division and Landmarks Commission operates under, said the committee has given the Cubs no indication that the ruling on Thursday will go one way or the other.

Wrigley Rennovations

Chicago Cubs media relations did not return requests for comment about the claims made in the organization’s news release.

The proposed renovations, particularly adding outfield signs, has caused a riff in the neighborhood, mostly from rooftop owners who run their own businesses and want to offer unobstructed views of the field.

Paul Ciciora, 57, is an IT executive who has lived in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood for over 25 years. Ciciora is in favor of the proposed renovations at, but he still holds a few reservations about it.

“I don’t see why they have to put the big scoreboards where they’ll block the rooftops,” Ciciora said. “It seems like they just want to annoy people. They could easily put them on the other side where they wouldn’t block anything.”

In Ciciora’s mind it there wouldn’t even be a controversy if the owners who developed the plan for the field’s improvements were a little more flexible. “I think they’re being really stupid,” he said. “They’re just making it harder on themselves in the long run.”

Ciciora is not concerned about increased traffic, or tourists. He is most concerned about getting the restorations on the century-old field’s grandstand. “It needs to be torn down and rebuilt,” he said. “It’s getting to be a hazard.”

Some visitors outside Wrigley Field said they were worried the renovations could ruin the historical charm of the ballpark.

[pullquote]“The renovation plan will definitely take away from the historic feel of the park, we come to experience a great Chicago tradition not just an average ballpark like the rest,” said Cameron Tucker, 27, of Maryland, who was visiting friends in Chicago.[/pullquote]

Even though the changes might change the charm of the park, some feel that the changes are good for the neighborhood.

“The renovation is a great idea for the field, I think it will bring a lot more opportunities to the city,” said Eileen Lancer, of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

Others say that the updates are long overdue.

“ I think that Wrigley Field is out dated and renovating it will generate more business for the locals” said Claire Woods a resident of Wrigleyville. “It looks outdated honestly not that appealing.”

Gus Isacson, executive director of the Central Lakeview Merchants Association and board member of the Lake View Citizen’s Council, said that electronic signage is a move more new businesses are making.

“As a business organization, we are supportive of a business putting up signage as a way to increase revenue for renovation,” Isacson said. “This is a generation that wants more television, more movement.”

Some residents have express security concerns, saying that increased foot and construction traffic could increase crime in their neighborhood.

Chicago Police Officer Patrick Gallagher said he does not anticipate security problems. He often patrols on days when the Cubs are playing at home. He said even on days with lots of tourists and heavy traffic, the police work really hard and handles it well.

“People will just come to see the Cubs, no matter what,” Gallagher said. “After the renovations, crowds will still gather and the police will always be able to manage it.”

Gallagher also said that most issues that occur around the neighborhood during Cubs games are not related to the visitors of the game, but he’s still happy to see something new happen to the stadium. “It’s been long overdue.”

Rashmi Shivni, Emily Machura, Carissa Peters, Myranda Thigpen, Victoria Street, Molly Hess, Lee Kolcz, Iman Baraki, Tracy Waters and Max Green contributed to this story.

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