Thomas Tunney is the alderman who has represented the Wrigleyville neighborhood’s interests for about 10 years, so, when he speaks on Wrigley Field renovations, there is considerable clout behind his words.
And, as he’s been saying for years, Tunney isn’t crazy about some of the renovation plans being bounced around. In particular, he doesn’t support the closing of streets around Wrigley Field for street fairs on game days.
“I’m not inflexible, but … I think the idea of regularly shutting them down would be a problem for the residents of my community,” Tunney said, according to the Tribune. And you can understand why: street fairs wouldn’t just theoretically annoy residents (I say theoretically because you don’t choose to live in Wrigleyville unless you’re into the atmosphere), they could relocate dollars from area businesses’ pockets to the Cubs’. I say that without a hint of cynism, mind you, because Tunney is simply representing his constituency.
In addition to opposing street closings, Tunney laid out a number of conditions he’d expect to be met before any renovation deal is put in place. From the Tribune:
Tunney’s email staked out his position on Wrigley improvements, including a host of conditions for any deal, including a 10-year extension of the city ordinance limiting night games and concerts at Wrigley, and a limit on Sheffield and Waveland Avenue closings.
The alderman also wants a dedicated police detail for Wrigley events, “especially postgame coverage,” and sidewalk, lighting and landscape improvements along Sheffield. Both could be part of any funding package, he said ….
Tunney also wrote in his email that the deal should include a commitment to refurbish the CTA Sheridan Red Line “L” station, an updated plan for the triangle building and plaza that would include space for “farmers markets and ice skating,” and a long-term agreement on signage between the Cubs and surrounding rooftop businesses.
“We’ll work out something,” Tunney said. “We’ve got to work with the Cubs, like we always have done. … I think we’ve done well as a community, and Wrigley Field has done pretty well too.”
Reasonable requests? Extra police, lighting improvements, a farmers market, and an ice skating rink make sense to me. Communities like that kind of stuff, and he’s representing the community. Refurbished “L” station? Sure, though the explicit connection is unclear to me (the Addison station is right next to Wrigley, and would seem to net the great increase in foot traffic). A long-term agreement on signage between the Cubs and the rooftop owners? Again, makes sense to me, so long as the agreement is beneficial both to the Cubs and the rooftop owners (disclosure: this site is sponsored in part by a rooftop owner).
One condition bothers me, though, and you know which one it is. The limitation on night games poses not only a strict financial burden on the Cubs (who likely would make more money with an increase in night games), but a continued physical burden on the players. The concert thing, too, has a financial component attached.
Let this serve as a reminder: when hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of interested parties are involved, nothing is easy.