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Team wants more bleachers, multi-purpose addition

6/18/2004 - Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are trying to give Wrigley Field
a facelift.

Again.

The Cubs gave the city of Chicago a renovation proposal Friday
that includes a 1,980-seat expansion of the bleachers, renovation
of the exterior outfield walls and a new multipurpose building on
the west side of the ballpark that would include a restaurant,
parking garage and underground batting cages and pitchers' mounds.

The Cubs also want to build an open-air pedestrian walkway
between the building and the stadium.

"These are not really new plans,"said Mike Lufrano, the Cubs
vice president of community affairs. "This represents the final
piece of the plan that we really proposed starting in 2001 to
improve Wrigley Field and the campus surrounding the ballpark.

"We share the interest of the city in getting it wrapped up,
giving certainty to the rooftop businesses, to the Cubs, to
securing our future in Wrigley Field."

Lufrano said the Cubs don't expect construction to begin before
the end of the 2005 season. The plan has to be approved by the
city's plan commission as well as the City Council, and the
landmark committee also has to sign off on it.

The Cubs drew the ire of neighbors and city officials when they
unveiled their initial expansion plans and request for additional
night games in June 2001. Rooftop owners claimed the bleacher
expansion would block their views, and neighbors complained that
support columns needed for the project would interrupt traffic
flow.

Neighbors also raised concerns that additional capacity could
lead to more traffic jams and more drunken fans throwing trash and
urinating on their lawns.

The neighborhood concerns helped stall the renovations, which
the Cubs originally hoped to have completed by the start of the
2002 season. The city council also gave the ballpark landmark
status, making it harder to make changes to it.

The city finally gave the Cubs permission in February to add up
to 30 night games over the next three years after the club agreed
to spend more money to address congestion, litter and other
game-related problems. The Cubs also settled a federal lawsuit with
rooftop owners in April.

Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bleachers, a tavern just beyond
the center field wall, said she worries that an expansion might
detract from the aesthetics of the ballpark and that more fans
would further clog the congested neighborhood.

"I would rather they not expand," Murphy said. "We haven't
seen the impact of the additional night games on the neighborhood.
I think it's too soon to be looking at yet another change to the
ballpark.''