Wrigley Field designated as a National Historic Landmark

The status gives the Ricketts family access to federal income tax credits.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Cubs’ iconic Wrigley Field has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the team announced Thursday.

National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture.

“The historical significance of Wrigley Field is interwoven into our nation’s story and a key part of what has become America’s beloved pastime for over a century,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said. “It is with great enthusiasm that I designate this iconic national treasure, the site of many legendary events, innovations and traditions in baseball history, as a National Historic Landmark.”

The status gives the Ricketts family, who own the Cubs, access to federal income tax credits, Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported. The Ricketts ownership group funded what was around a $1-billion renovation of Wrigley Field that started after the end of the 2014 season and has since been completed.

“Wrigley Field is a special place in the hearts of generations of fans,” chairman Tom Ricketts said. “That’s why, from our first day as owners, we committed to preserving Wrigley, which will now take its well-earned place in the lineup of American history and culture as a national treasure.”

Wrigley Field was built in 1914. It has been the home of the Cubs, a National League charter franchise dating back to 1876, since 1916. Two years younger than Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and the oldest in the NL.

Many legendary events have taken place in the ballpark, including baseball’s only “Double No-Hitter” in 1917, Babe Ruth’s supposed “Called Shot” during the 1932 World Series and Gabby Hartnett’s “Homer in the Gloamin'” that helped propel the Cubs to the 1938 NL pennant. It was also the location in 1933 of the first National Football League championship, the forerunner to today’s Super Bowl.

Wrigley Field’s ivy-covered brick outfield wall and well-known bleachers behind it were constructed during renovations in 1937. The 27-foot-high outfield scoreboard was also added at that time. Other improvements include seating renovations, the addition of an upper deck and the addition of lights for night games in 1988. Renovations during the multi-year restoration and expansion project initiated in 2014 further enhanced the iconic features of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are happy about the designation of Wrigley Field as a National Historic Landmark, spokesman Julian Green said. It had been several years in the making.

“We applied for this designation some years ago -- I think almost seven years ago," Green said. "But obviously we needed to get through the historic renovation and restoration of Wrigley Field prior to the designation happening.”

The Ricketts family upgraded the basic structure of Wrigley Field but modernized it, adding video scoreboards along with new seats and underground clubs. They also made it safer for fans watching in-stadium, as previously nets hung to catch falling debris from the aging structure.

The old scoreboard and the ivy remain.

At some point, the Cubs will have a public celebration marking Wrigley Field’s newly designated National Historic Landmark status, Green said.