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Wrigley Field renovation talks ongoing

CHICAGO -- It was Opening Day at Wrigley Field on Monday, and may be the last one before the Cubs begin a $300 million renovation plan at the ballpark. The Cubs are still waiting for approval from the city regarding changes they want to make, and negotiations are ongoing.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Monday they are moving forward but wouldn't set a deadline for a decision.

"I'm not going to put a time frame around it because there's a public part of the process that has to happen," Ricketts said. "We look forward to getting the public part of the process started."

There will apparently be public hearings regarding some of the issues, such as parking in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Ricketts said he wasn't sure what the objections were, but said the club is "sensitive to things that affect the neighbors. We want to be responsive to issues the neighbors have."

The Cubs also want more flexibility in terms of scheduling their games. There's a long list of items to be finalized before work can begin.

"I'm optimistic," Ricketts said. "I think everything is headed in the right direction. ... We're working under the assumption that everyone is working toward getting this done as soon as possible and moving forward."

Some of the players have seen improvements at other ballparks and the positive impact they've had.

"I remember in Kansas City, all the renovations they did there, it made the ballpark experience that much better," Chicago outfielder David DeJesus said. "When they do that here, the fans will want to keep coming back and it will draw people from everywhere."

Ricketts said one of the top priorities was to improve the home clubhouse, starting this offseason.

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said the changes will help the team in the future.

"I look at it as I look at making a good decision on the Draft," Epstein said. "It's something that's really important, but it's not going to impact us immediately. It's something we need to get right because it will impact our club a couple years down the line just like the Draft will, but as far as it's bearing on the 2013 season, it's not really related at all."

There was a belief that the Cubs would make an announcement Monday, but Epstein said he believed talks were progressing.

"The guys who are in the midst of the negotiations say there is a lot of momentum and obviously they wouldn't keep talking if they weren't close," he said. "They're still talking and still hopeful to get a deal done, there's still time to get a deal done. We'll see what happens."

The renovation plan includes a better clubhouse and facilities for the players, and if approved, it would mean a Jumbotron video scoreboard and more night games.

"I think the day games can be a competitive advantage for us, too, because we can adjust to it," Epstein said. "[Playing more night games] is more about revenue than it is about competitiveness. It'd be nice to have the flexibility."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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