April 25th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Facelift proposed for historic Wrigley Field

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter @nova_safo

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(CNN) - A 99-year-old Chicagoan is considering a face lift. Chicago’s Wrigley Field is the second-oldest American ballpark after Boston’s Fenway Park. Over the past 80 years, the stadium has received only incremental changes. It still uses a manual scoreboard, with a crew of up to four people to operate it.

But the park may soon face change at a scale not seen in decades.

The owner of the ballpark’s resident baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, is proposing a $500 million renovation plan that would add a 6,000-square-foot video screen and a 1,000-square-foot billboard, along with even more advertising signs outside the stadium.

The Cubs also want to expand two of Wrigley Field’s walls, taking over parts of adjacent streets. And they want to build a hotel and a public plaza next door.

Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told reporters that the economics of the old-world Wrigley Field can no longer compete with glitzy, luxury box-laced modern stadiums:

[1:52] “This plan will help us close the gap with newer, more economically efficient ballparks. And preserve Wrigley Field for the next generation of fans.”

Some of Wrigley Field’s neighbors are not thrilled about the proposed changes – at least not unless they can have a say in working out the details. Those neighbors are the rooftop clubs that surround the stadium. They are businesses that sell stadium-style seats fastened to the roofs of brownstone buildings across the street and provide unobstructed, sweeping views inside the ballpark.

Beth Murphy is the owner of Murphy’s Bleachers, one of the rooftop clubs.

[5:51] “Our concern is we will be blocked from being able to see the game from the rooftop and we won’t be able to operate our businesses any longer.”

The rooftop clubs will be among the many who are likely to want to have a say in the Wrigley Field renovation plans. There will be public hearings in the following weeks, and likely months, to figure out the future of historic Wrigley Field.

To learn more about Wrigley Field, its unique place in American history, and the renovation plans, please listen to our story above.

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