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Column: Wrigley Field national landmark listing will likely mean millions in tax credits for the Cubs-owning Ricketts family

By Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

CHICAGO — It's not quite like winning the World Series, but getting listed as a National Historic Landmark, as Wrigley Field was Thursday, is pretty sweet stuff.

There are only about 2,600 National Historic Landmarks, including Mount Vernon and Pearl Harbor. The National Park Park Service, which administers the list, says it is reserved for "historic places that hold national significance."

Soldier Field used to be a National Historic Landmark. Then the Bears dropped a flying saucer of a seating bowl on the multicolumned lakefront stadium and the federal government stripped it of that status in 2006.

In contrast, tens of thousands of historic sites are on the better-known but less-selective National Register of Historic Places, which includes both National Historic Landmarks and properties that are of state and local significance.

For the Cubs' owners, the Ricketts family, Wrigley's designation as a National Historic Landmark represents a vindication of their $1 billion, multiyear renovation of the 106-year-old ballpark, the second oldest in the major leagues, and a financial boost.

It is all but certain to make the owners, who were denied public subsidies by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, eligible for millions of dollars in historic preservation tax credits.

 

The honor is "reserved for special buildings," said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, a local advocacy group. "It could result in tax credits and funding that would help the owner and it could be very beneficial long term to them financially."

Fenway Park, the oldest major league ballpark, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Several American sports facilities were named National Historic Landmarks in 1987. They included Soldier Field, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California; Harvard Stadium in Boston; the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby, had been named a year earlier, in 1986. And more recently, Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, was named to the list in 2014.

Other National Historic Landmarks in Illinois include the Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade Building, the Cahokia Mounds, the Abraham Lincoln Home in Springfield, the Rookery Building and Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple.

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