U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced on Thursday that Wrigley Field has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The famed ballpark, which first opened in 1914, will obtain valuable tax and property benefits.
A National Historic Landmark is one that the Secretary of the Interior deems of national significance in American history and culture. The Apollo Mission Control Center, Fort Sam Houston, Mount Vernon and Bunker Hill Monument are among approximately 2,600 landmarks listed in the Registry of National Historic Landmarks. Harvard Stadium, Hinchliffe Stadium, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl and the Yale Bowl are other sports facilities on the list (Fenway Park is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places, a similar designation with comparable benefits).
In a statement explaining Thursday’s proclamation, Bernhardt stressed how Wrigley is “interwoven into our nation’s story” and the site “of many legendary events, innovations and traditions in baseball history.” Chicago Cubs executive chairman Tom Ricketts also weighed in, adding that Wrigley “will now take its well-earned place in the lineup of American history and culture as a national treasure.”
Gaining landmark membership comes with legal benefits, such as eligibility for tax relief—most notably a 20% investment tax credit for rehabilitation of the landmark, as well as potential deductions for charitable contributions related to landmark conservation. Other advantages relate to opportunities to comment on nearby work projects that could impact the facility and eligibility for certain types of federal grants.
Of added benefit, membership doesn’t come “with strings attached.” There are no automatic restrictions on use of the landmark. However, restrictions can surface if federal money is used to advance the landmark. Also, state and local preservation laws can apply and complicate architectural plans to modify or destruct the landmark.
There is evidence that the historic landmark designation impacts, and often increases, property value. This point was captured by Judge Kathleen Doar of the Minnesota Tax Court in the 1992 decision Lazaretti v. County of Hennepin. On one hand, Judge Doar emphasized that landmark designation “may detract from value” if it brings about limitations to possible alterations or demolition. Some prospective buyers might be dissuaded from buying if state or local restrictions interfere with potential uses. On the other hand, she stressed that “the prestige and other benefits resulting from designation may enhance selling prices.” Her reference to higher property values for landmarks is one scholars have found is often the case.