Inflation slows plan at Wrigley
Cubs still committed to build restaurant, museum and shops

By Bob Secter
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 23, 2006

Rising costs have delayed plans by the Chicago Cubs to begin construction this fall on a restaurant and parking garage facility adjacent to Wrigley Field, but the team remains committed to the project, a Cubs official said Tuesday.

The team unveiled plans for the building in 2001, when it also first said it wanted to expand the bleachers and make other ballpark improvements.

The plans called for a five-story multipurpose building, to be located just west of Wrigley Field, with 400 parking spaces, a restaurant, a museum, and retail shops above ground, as well as underground workout facilities for Cubs players.

Lengthy and sometimes contentious negotiations delayed the bleacher expansion work until last year. Work on the multipurpose structure was also held up in a dispute over ownership of the land on which the building would sit.

The land dispute was resolved with Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs and Wrigley Field, agreeing to buy the land from the city for $2.1 million. Tribune Co. also owns the Chicago Tribune.

The cost of the building was estimated at $30 million five years ago. Mike Lufrano, vice president of community relations for the Cubs, said that amount has risen substantially since then, but he declined to say how much.

"Like any construction project, costs are higher than they were five years ago," he said. "It has become apparent we won't be able to break ground in November as we hoped. But we very much recognize the project is an asset for the team and community, and we're talking with developers and potential partners about how to address the increase in costs."

Lufrano said restaurants and parking lot firms have expressed an interest in joining with the team in developing the project, but he declined to be specific. Construction should take about 18 months once under way, he said.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes the ballpark, said the team might sell naming rights to the new building to help pay for it.

"They've been working aggressively to find additional sources of revenue," Tunney said. "I can anticipate they're not going to get too much into next year without having a plan nailed down."

A surface parking lot with space for 200 cars now sits on the site of the proposed building, and the parking structure portion of the project will double the number of spaces now available. While that will ease congestion during game days, Tunney said it is even more important to help promote development of the Wrigleyville retail corridor during the off-season.


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