The proposed DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field is a step closer to becoming a reality. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved the proposed two-story sportsbook for Illinois sports betting that would be built adjacent to the ballpark.
“While the game of baseball has largely been the same for the last 150 years, the fans have changed,” Chicago Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in an email to the Chicago Tribune after the commission’s decision Thursday. “The way they consume baseball is different through emerging technology and content platforms. Sports wagering is becoming a big part of that change and this sportsbook will allow us to connect fans to the game in new ways.”
In September 2020, the Cubs announced DraftKings IL Sportsbook as their first official and exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy partner. As part of the agreement, the Cubs and DraftKings would pursue a retail sportsbook at the iconic Wrigley Field for MLB betting.
In June, the Cubs revealed the plans for the retail sportsbook inside the stadium, but did not provide an update on when construction would be completed.
The historic stadium was designated as a Chicago landmark in 2004. Because of the classification, the sportsbook proposal still requires approval from the City Council, Illinois Gaming Board and the National Park Service, according to the Chicago Tribune story.
The Wrigley Field sportsbook will need the City Council to agree to a proposed ordinance that will allow Chicago sports venues to receive sports wagering licenses, in addition to approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, the story said. The Cubs are also reviewing the proposed sportsbook design with the National Park Service.
Wrigley Historic Status
Plans for the new sportsbook are part of a $1 billion renovation around Wrigley Field, according to the Tribune story. The updates started in 2014 and included giant video screens, new restrooms, an added office tower, hotel and other amenities. Even with the changes, Wrigley Field has managed to preserve its status as a National Historic Landmark. The Cubs’ ability to add modern elements while keeping the historic nature of the ballpark bodes well for receiving approval on the new sportsbook.
“We continue to work to balance the interests of preservation and of our building, which we know is a treasure to the city, with continuing to make it an exciting destination for our fans and to be able to add amenities that allow them to continue to enjoy it,” Cubs Vice President Mike Lufrano said at the hearing, according to the Tribune.
Illinois Betting Strong
Illinois had a June sports betting handle of $476.5 million, a 6.1% decline from $507.3 million wagered in May, according to the Illinois Gaming Board. The June report on IL gambling was posted Thursday. The total was third nationally behind New Jersey and Nevada.
June was the first month this year that Illinois did not reach $500 million in total sports handle. But revenue of $47.5 million was just short of the record set in January for the state.
More operators could be entering the Illinois market. The gaming board will begin accepting applications for three online-only licenses available in Illinois. The licenses cost $20 million each. It remains to be seen if an online sportsbook will pay the fee as many of the big operators have partnered with casinos or racetracks to get around that fee.