While we wait on more information regarding the Chicago Cubs’ talks with the rooftop owners, it sounds like the Cubs are taking the same “parallel fronts” attitude to funding the renovation as they’ve taken to roster building. That is to say, the advertising signage issue that involves the rooftops is only one aspect of the Cubs’ funding plans for the renovation. Another is the ability to have more night games, more concerts, and street fairs.
And, for the most part, that means convincing the community that such things will not ruin their neighborhood (insert comment about knowing that you’re living next to Wrigley Field and gladly accepting the benefits thereof, while simultaneously complaining about the inconveniences).
Yesterday, the same day that management was meeting with the rooftops, Alderman Tom Tunney – who represents the 44th Ward, in which Wrigley Field sits – discussed a plan involving those issues, floated to him by the Cubs. According to a report from DNAinfo, Tunney disclosed that plan at Monday’s Southport Neighbors Association meeting at the Mercury Theatre, which was also attended by Cubs VP of Community Affairs Mike Lufrano. It would appear that the Cubs and Tunney are working together on this, but you can never be quite sure.
So, what is the plan?
In short, the Cubs are requesting an extremely modest near-term increase in permitted night games, from the currently-allowed 30, to a still-small 33. The Cubs would also like to increase the number of permitted concerts from three to four, and would like to be permitted to conduct street fairs on Sheffield Avenue, which is already closed on game days. At the meeting, Tunney indicated that he comes into the picture because the Cubs would like him to introduce an ordinance at the February 13 City Council meeting which would increase the night games to 33 and the concerts to four, among other things. (The street fair issue, Tunney indicated, could take longer to formally take shape, because there are a number of issues to work out.)
The response – by that particular neighborhood group, anyway – was largely negative, according to the DNAinfo report, which called the two-hour meeting “heated.” Jill Peters, President of the Southport Neighbors Association, called the plan to push for the ordinance a “backdoor deal,” according to DNAinfo, and said she felt like an “ant being stepped on by giants.”
Probably not the start the Cubs were hoping to get out to with the neighborhood. This is a process, though, and I’m sure hurdles weren’t entirely unanticipated.
It is amazing that, at every turn, regardless of how reasonable the Cubs appear to be, they are met with intransigence and power grabs. As outsiders, we don’t know enough to say for certain that the Cubs are the victims in all of this, but, man, if I’m a little frustrated, I can only imagine how they’re feeling right now.
Still, as with everything since the Ricketts Family took over, the Cubs are in this for the long haul, and I’m sure they’re willing to put in the work.
My sense is that the Cubs are looking to get as many of the changes in place as soon as possible, and causing as few waves as possible. In the long-term, there’s no way the Cubs are going to be content to increase the night games by just three, and the concerts by just one. But, if it’s a first step they can take and get in place before the 2013 season, they might as well get the ball rolling. The proposed ordinance would last only through 2015.
Now we’ll see how much of a fight the neighborhood puts up, and what the Mayor’s support is worth. Is the Mayor’s support the reason Tunney seems amenable to helping the Cubs? Or is it the Cubs’ seemingly new-found willingness to discuss a deal with the rooftops? If the Cubs can’t get a deal done with the rooftops, do they lose Tunney’s support on the other issues?
The political angles, man. I can barely keep up with them.