Axios Chicago

Newsletter branding image

๐ŸƒHappy April Fools' Day! We hope you don't get pranked too much.

  • Today's weather: Rainy this afternoon with a high near 47. Check the status of today's Cubs game at Wrigley before heading out.

Situational awareness: Street sweeping season is upon us. Check the Streets and San calendar to make sure you're not that one car owner who ignored the orange signs.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Joseph Richert!

Today's newsletter is 935 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Wrigley rooftop signs could be new reality

A rendering of the proposed Coca-Cola sign on a Waveland Avenue rooftop outside of Wrigley Field. Photo: Courtesy of Stratus

Barring any weather delays, the Cubs play the Rockies today in their home opener and the new season brings new modernization and money-making plans at the Friendly Confines.

Why it matters: The Ricketts โ€” the Cubs' and Wrigley Field's owners since 2009 โ€” have been updating the stadium and transforming the surrounding area over the last decade, facing pushback from neighbors and city officials worried the renovations could threaten the historic nature of one of the nation's oldest ballparks.

Flashback: When the more-than-$500 million renovation plan was approved in 2013, then-Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) famously warned the Ricketts he'd be "up your butt every day" to make sure the owners didn't take their adaptations too far.

The latest: Tunney's successor, Ald. Bennett Lawson, has a much more cordial relationship with the owners and introduced an ordinance earlier this month that would allow the team to install rooftop signs on buildings it owns on Sheffield and Waveland.

State of play: Lawson's proposal would create a special district that would allow signs on the rooftops with several requirements โ€” they must be smaller than 775 square feet and static without flashing or emitting noise.

proposed sign over a building near Wrigley Field
Rendering of the proposed Benjamin Moore sign near Wrigley Field. Photo: Courtesy of Stratus

What they're saying: "These signs are on Cubs-owned buildings with low impact to the community," Lawson tells Axios. "Constituents were receptive to the proposal because the signs face inward and will only be lit up during games and large-scale events."

The other side: Rooftop owners battled the Cubs over obstructed views after the city approved the video scoreboard in 2013, unsuccessfully suing the team for what they say was lost revenue.

Reality check: The Cubs generate tens of millions in tax revenues for Wrigleyville and the city, and the team brought 2.8 million fans to the ballpark last year, according to ESPN.

What's next: The rooftop sign ordinance goes to committee and could be voted on by the full council this month.

Share this

2. How to Fake It: Cubs' 2024 season opener

Manager Craig Counsell stands in the dugout during a spring training game. Photo: John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The Cubs are counting on the hopes of spring to erase the failures of last fall, when they collapsed down the stretch.

The big picture: The Cubs are primed to make a run at the National League Central title and make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

Who's in: The Cubs didn't necessarily reload on the field, but they definitely did in the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell replaced David Ross.

  • Cody Bellinger returns, and they signed Japanese pitcher Shลta Imanaga, who is expected to start today. They also dealt for onetime closer Hรฉctor Neris, who will provide insurance if current closer Adbert Alzolay falls short.

Who's out: Marcus Stroman, Jeimer Candelario and that's about it.

Strengths: Defense. This team has one of the best up-the-middle defenses in baseball, featuring Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner.

Weaknesses: So far, injuries. The Cubs lost ace Justin Steele to a hamstring injury already and many other key contributors are banged up to start the season.

The bottom line: Even though they started slow in Texas, this could be a good year for the Cubs, who are squarely out of rebuild mode and ready to contend for the NL Central crown.

3. Eileen O'Neill Burke ekes out a victory

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Eileen O'Neill Burke has declared victory over Clayton Harris III in the Democratic primary for Cook County state's attorney.

Why it matters: The race was one of the closest the county has seen in decades, and the Democratic candidate traditionally wins in blue Cook County.

State of play: The Associated Press called the race Friday night for O'Neill Burke, who prevailed by fewer than 1,600 votes.

Between the lines: A strong early showing for O'Neill Burke led many to predict an outcome signaling a rebuke of outgoing progressive State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

  • O'Neill Burke's endorsers and donors included business groups, contributors linked to Ken Griffin's Citadel fund and the police union, leading many to associate her with tough-on-crime policies.
  • Like Foxx, Harris was endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party.
  • But far from a rebuke, the extremely close results indicate an almost even split between the two candidates, who advanced policies that stray little from Foxx's.

The intrigue: While Harris shared Foxx's stance on a higher threshold for charging someone with felony retail theft, O'Neill Burke's campaign promoted arguably even more progressive policies, including creating a newly fashioned Restorative Justice Bureau โ€” an idea originally proposed by Foxx.

What's next: The Chicago Board of Elections is expected to certify the vote Tuesday.

  • O'Neill Burke will face GOP challenger Bob Fioretti in the November election for the seat.

4. Tips and hot links: Illini lose big in Boston

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Migrants began moving out of Chicago Park District facilities over the weekend. (Sun-Times)

โš–๏ธ The owner of the Avalon Regal Theater is suing the city and a South Side alderperson for allegedly stonewalling progress on the theater's renovation. (Block Club)

๐Ÿ€ The Illini were blown out by UConn on Saturday night after making it to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2005. (ABC-7)

5. Bite club: Portillo's salad with giardiniera

Portillo's spicy chicken salad with giardiniera. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

๐Ÿ‘‹ Monica here. I didn't think giardiniera belonged on salads โ€” until now.

The bite: Portillo's new spicy chicken chopped salad ($11.99) featuring fried chicken, gorgonzola cheese, purple cabbage, mini pasta tubes called ditalini, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and house dressing.

The intrigue: I was immediately turned off by the iceberg, pasta tubes and creamy dressing, which reminded me of something from my old church potlucks.

Yes, but: I couldn't stop shoveling this blend of crisp lettuce, creamy dressing, crunchy chicken, spicy giardiniera and rich cheese into my piehole.

  • Shockingly, these elements โ€” even the pasta โ€” play super well together.
  • And I'm finally seeing a role for giardiniera in salad.

Share this

Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Matt Piper and Yasmeen Altaji.

๐ŸŒญ Carrie is impressed with artist Steve Shanabruch's artwork to accompany reporter Gregory Pratt's new book.ย 

๐Ÿ“• Monica is digging up her old copy of "Boss" to see if it still holds up after Axios readers voted it the best nonfiction Chicago book of all time last week.

๐Ÿคฃ Justin loves when Opening Day coincides with April Fools' Day. He remembers producing this 2013 broadcast from a fake Wrigleyville bar when he worked at WBEZ.

Want more Axios Chicago content? Check out our Instagram for extra stuff to do, behind-the-scenes photos, videos and more!