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MLB: Cubs test videoboard positioning

Team owner Ricketts sits on a nearby rooftop as a mock-up of the new board is put in place.

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 12:00 am

CHICAGO -- The Cubs began evaluating new signs and a 6,000-square-foot video board in the Wrigley Field outfield Tuesday, installing mock-ups to see if rooftop views of the ballpark would be impaired.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts took in the view from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue as the mocked-up sign in right field was put in position.

He said afterward the view was "what we expected" and the blockage to the rooftop clubs was "minimal."

The Cubs used cranes to hoist two large tarps where the video board would be on Waveland Avenue behind the Toyota sign and a large quadrangular sign that would be in the back of the right-field bleachers.

Crane Kenney, president of business operations for the Cubs, and team marketing partner Wally Hayward watched the work from a rooftop in left field. Alderman Tom Tunney, several rooftop owners and a representative of the Chicago Landmarks Commission were also on hand.

Rooftop owner Beth Murphy said of the sign in right field, "It's big," and said she thought it would block the views from some rooftops but not hers. One person who was on a roof during the mock-up said two buildings had obstructed views.

The Wrigleyville Rooftops Association released a statement through spokesman Ryan McLaughlin saying they appreciated the Cubs' "willingness to demonstrate the impact of their sign plan."

"We were shown several options today, which we will verify with the permit applications they have submitted to the City of Chicago," the statement said.

It did not address whether rooftop views were impaired, and it reiterated the owners' belief that putting signs on their buildings is a better alternative.

A Cubs spokesman said there's no plan to start construction and the exercise was "part of the evaluation process" for the neighborhood and rooftop owners.

"We're putting up a mock-up today to see what the outline and size of a potential video board would look like," spokesman Julian Green said.

When asked whether the faux video board was tied to the team's development approval process before the city, Green said the Cubs put up the temporary structure voluntarily.

"This was not part of any requirement with the city," he said. "We're trying to help minimize the impact on our rooftop neighbors."

The mock-ups were dismantled shortly after they were set up.

The giant video board is perhaps the most controversial part of the renovation plan for the majority of fans who don't care about the views from the rooftops. A source said Ricketts decided long ago the team will not allow the video board to be used for a "Kiss Cam" or similar fan-appeasing stunts featured in other ballparks, hoping for a "smarter" scoreboard.

Asked last week if a video board would "irrevocably change the atmosphere" at Wrigley, Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Cubs, responded, "Not if it's done tastefully and is geared for the baseball experience, which is the plan."

June figures to be an important month in the renovation process, with an upcoming City Council hearing on the proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Tunney to allow for up to 46 night games, as well as a landmarks commission hearing.

The Cubs would like to get the night-game issue settled soon to add some 3:05 p.m. Friday starts in the second half of this season. The extra night games wouldn't be added until 2014.

Ricketts said the renovation plan is a "win-win" for the Cubs and the neighborhood. He said he's "not panicked" about the slow pace of the project.

"I'm not a panicky person," he said.

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