By Mark Weyermuller -
It's always fun to attend a community meeting to find out what's going on, especially in Chicago. Last night, I heard the Chicago Cubs management interact with Wrigleyville neighbors and business owners on the subject of signage. Alderman Tom Tunney from the 44th Ward moderated the discussion, which got heated at times. It was standing room only with over 150 people in a small meeting room at the new Townhall Police Station.
The main issue is the landmark status of the historic ballpark. The Cubs want to add between two and seven large billboard signs, two of which are large television screens, also called "jumbotrons." Some Cubs fans feel these tv screens will diminish the ambiance of the field while others welcome the modernization. For the Cubs, it's all about added revenue from the advertising.
Chicago media is very interested
The signs may block the views of the dozen or so rooftops on Waveland and Sheffield which have a ten year contract with the Cubs. Needless to say, those property owners are not happy. The usual neighbor complaints of noise, traffic and parking was brought up at the hearing. One gentleman indicated the LED lights may interfere with migratory birds.
Personally, from a historic standpoint, I'm concerned the jumbotrons will block baseballs from leaving the ballpark in a way they have done for over 100 years - by getting knocked out of the park via home runs. I've been known to hang out on Waveland at times, catching balls. These home run ball catchers are known as "ballhawks." I don't think they are migratory birds, but if the Wrigley Field signs are approved, the area's ballhawks may become extinct, and that part of Wrigley Field history will be gone.
A final decision on the signs will be made the status Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 12:45 p.m. at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks at 120 North Clark in the County Building. And although it will be held midday, I'm sure there will be some fireworks.
Mark Weyermuller with Alderman Tom Tunney and Tom Boyle, owner of Yesterday's, an antique store a block from Wrigley Field