A couple weeks ago, we learned of a plan ostensibly crafted in harmony between the Chicago Cubs and Alderman Tom Tunney, which involved today’s City Council meeting. The gist:
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.)
It was unclear at that time just how the Cubs had procured Tunney’s involvement. He’s been demanding a handful of concessions and benefits for the Wrigleyville community, funded by the Cubs, in exchange for his support on their plans to secure new revenue streams for the renovation of Wrigley Field.
Well, it seems that the Cubs haven’t yet procured his involvement after all. From the Tribune:
The Chicago Cubs’ push for more night games in the upcoming season could be in jeopardy, as Ald. Tom Tunney said he would not introduce legislation at today’s City Council meeting ….
The team had asked Tunney to introduce a measure amending the neighborhood protection ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting. But the alderman wants the Cubs to address parking, traffic and security issues in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.
The lack of a proposal today suggests Tunney is in no rush to give the Cubs what they want. Additional night games are just one of the changes the Cubs seek that are tied to Wrigley renovations. The team also wants the city to lift landmark restrictions on the stadium to allow for more advertising and change zoning around Wrigley to allow for pre-game street festivals.
So, it seems the Cubs have not yet sufficiently bent to Tunney’s will in order to get his support three of their four proposed renovation funding mechanisms – more night games, more concerts, and street fairs – to say nothing of the fourth mechanism, increased ad signage, about which the Cubs remain locked in a dispute with the rooftop owners.
What a fine mess, as most things with political requirements become.
Were I more cynical, I’d point out a DNAinfo report that the Cubs two years ago stopped making a $150,000 annual donation to charities of Tunney’s choosing as a potential additional source of ice between the parties. That informal agreement was the result of the last time the Cubs sought Tunney’s help in procuring changes in what they are allowed to do at Wrigley Field (in that instance, it was the introduction of concerts dating back to 2005). Perhaps Tunney once again seeks charitable contributions by the Cubs.
We do know for certain that he wants, among other things, increased police, improved streetscape, a renovated Sheridan Red Line stop, and a new park in the area. Perhaps Tunney is simply leveraging the Cubs’ time pressure – they’d like to have as many changes as possible in place for the upcoming season – to get as much out of the Cubs as he can.
The City obviously has a vested interest in moving the process along, so it’s fair to wonder how long they will permit Tunney to hold things up in the interest of neighborhood improvements. Would the City get involved, directly, on that side of things? We’ll see.
In the interim, we wait. We wait on an agreement between the Cubs and the rooftops (if one is to be had), on a plan for neighborhood improvements, on City Council approval of the Cubs’ additional revenue plans, and on a comprehensive ad signage plan. And, then, maybe we’ll have a finalized renovation plan.
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