City to weigh in on Wrigley Field marquee face-lift

Chicago Cubs City of Chicago Wrigley Field Sports and Recreation Commission on Chicago Landmarks More +
Wrigley Field’s historic red marquee is getting a makeover before returning to its spot overlooking Clark and Addison streets this spring.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks today is expected to approve a series of cosmetic and operational changes to the sign, which is one of a handful of Wrigley Field elements protected under the city of Chicago’s landmark ordinance that governs the ballpark.

Most notable among the changes will be the replacement of the LED digital sign on the bottom portion of the marquee, which typically cycles through different messaging.

The LED portion of the sign, which was installed in 1983, must be replaced and upgraded “to match the existing in size and general appearance,” the landmarks commission staff will recommend.

The Cubs removed the sign in November from the stadium’s southwest corner in order to do major structural work in the concourse near Wrigley Field’s main gate.

The interior of the sign was deemed structurally deficient and deteriorated, which called for a new structure to be installed. But the commission required the Cubs to salvage the front and side panels to reinstall them.

A new coat of red and white paint will be applied after the sign has its existing paint layers stripped away “using the gentlest means possible” (preservation officials actually have to approve the paint-stripping method).

The team will also replace the neon lighting in the “Cubs” lettering on the sign.

Alterations to Wrigley’s landmark features require the approval of not only the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The Cubs also need to stay within the guidelines put forth by the National Park Service to earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s a prerequisite for winning a federal tax credit the team is seeking—said to be worth $75 million—for preserving a historic landmark.

Whether the team qualifies for the tax credit won’t be determined until the stadium renovation is complete, which could be in 2018 or 2019.

The Clark and Addison entrance to the 101-year-old stadium, meanwhile, will look drastically different come Opening Day in April, part of the team’s ongoing $575 million ballpark renovation and redevelopment of its surrounding area.

Other work this off-season includes continued construction of a new Cubs office and retail building on the triangle property adjacent to the venue as well as a new 30,000-square-foot player clubhouse that is being built below that property.

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