City Hall slams brakes on Wrigley’s Toyota sign

April 2, 2010

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

An illuminated Toyota sign rising 38 feet above the Wrigley Field bleachers will not be in place by opening day, the Cubs acknowledged Thursday after City Hall demanded changes.

Sources said the city’s Department of Zoning wants the bright red sign moved eight feet closer to home plate, from the exterior back wall of the bleachers to an inside location directly behind the seats.

“If it’s an exterior sign, it’s too big for existing conditions, given all the other signs around the ballpark,” said local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).

The Daley administration has further demanded that sign poles be painted green so they “blend in with the architecture of the bleachers” and that the “welds and connection points tie in to the beams of Wrigley Field.”

The bottom line is that the Cubs must revise and resubmit their permit application. That makes it impossible for the approval process to be completed in time for the April 12 home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“We’ve received some constructive comments from the city. We’ll continue to work through the process that, we expect, will lead to approval,” said Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice president of community relations.

“It’s not likely the sign will be in place for Opening Day. We’re disappointed by the delay. We hope it will be short because the resources from this sign are important to our ability to improve the ballclub and Wrigley Field.”

City Hall sources said the Zoning Department’s initial response should not be interpreted as a prelude to approval. The sign still must pass muster with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

“It’s still in the first process of zoning. There’s still a ways to go,” Tunney said.

Last month, the Cubs applied for a permit to put up the advertising intrusion, which has rankled preservationists and may run afoul of the ballpark’s landmark designation. The deal could bring the Ricketts family up to $2.5 million a year.

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