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Chicago Mayor: Wrigley Renovations Won't Run Afoul of Super PAC Controversy

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Although Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was “livid” over a set of super PAC ads targeting President Obama, he indicated he won't allow the matter derail discussions involving millions of dollars in renovations to Wrigley Field, despite efforts by members of the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, to fund the $10-million ad campaign.

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Emanuel, who formerly was Obama's chief of staff, told reporters “the point has been made,” about the campaign, which sought to tie Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a controversial figure from whom Obama severed ties in 2008.

“We will [talk] at the appropriate time. … At the appropriate time, they’ll represent their interests, and I’ll represent the taxpayers," Emanuel told reporters.

Media accounts indicated Emanuel refused to accept phone calls from members of the Ricketts family, which is seeking public funding to help bankroll $200 million in renovations to Wrigley Field, the nation's second-oldest baseball stadium.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has indicated that publicly funded renovations to Wrigley Field would free up capital for the Ricketts to develop a pair of adjacent parcels, a scheme he says would create 1,000 construction jobs while providing permanent tax benefits to the city and the state.

Prior to the super PAC controversy, Emanuel and Ricketts were negotiating a proposal to relax the ballpark’s landmark status in order to generate $150 million in advertising and sponsorship revenues, including additional outfield signage, as well as sponsored “gateway” archways that would welcome Cubs fans to the stadium.

Tax dollars also may figure into the equation. Ricketts reportedly has revived a plan to finance some of the renovations with state bonds and repay the funds with an amusement tax on ticket buyers.


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