With the emergence of an offer to move the Chicago Cubs out of Wrigley Field and a suggestion that the Cubs move the iconic Old Scoreboard to accommodate advertising that doesn’t block rooftop views, Alderman Tom Tunney is losing the public relations battle these days – so much so that anonymous political compatriots are coming to his defense.
Already viewed by many as a hard-lining obstructionist in all matters Cubs (but concededly viewed by many in his ward as a guy who legitimately works for their benefit), this very public battle with the Chicago Cubs over the renovation of Wrigley Field and the funding thereof hasn’t done much for Tunney’s image among Cubs fans. That may not be fair, but politicians tend to care very deeply about one thing in particular: being re-elected. Cubs fans almost certainly aren’t the largest voting base in Tunney’s ward, but I suspect they do matter.
Perhaps sensing a turning of the public tide, Tunney is working to soothe his image, and remind folks that he’s trying to work with the Cubs, not against them.
“These [stories] take on a life of their own,” Tunney told the Chicago Tribune of the way he’s been portrayed in the negotiations. “I’m upset about the mischaracterizations.”
One mischaracterization about which Tunney feels strongly is that he was behind the idea to move the Old Scoreboard to accommodate a JumboTron. He explained to the Tribune that the idea was one of many discussed with Mayoral staffers and Cubs employees, and although he may have originally suggested it at those meetings, it was discarded, and he didn’t push for it.
(Interestingly, Serena Dai of DNAinfo writes that the move-the-scoreboard idea actually dates back to community meetings in 2012, at which Tunney and Cubs representatives were present, and at which a resident suggested the idea. Also interesting: Serena notes that there is annual community meeting next Tuesday, March 26, at which renovation issues are sure to be discussed. The meeting – thanks to Serena for the details – is at 6:30pm in the community room at the 19th Police District’s headquarters, located at 850 W. Addison, should you live in the area and be inclined to attend. You can see some details on the meeting here. I’ll remind folks about the meeting early next week.)
Tunney added that he was “disappointed” with the David Axelrod tweet that painted him as the reason a deal has yet to be completed. Tunney said that he’s spoken to Mayor Emanuel, who is close with Axelrod, about the tweet. (That whole dynamic is pretty weird. Yes, Axelrod’s firm has previously done work for the Cubs, but you wouldn’t think that he would be a political ally of the Ricketts Family to the exclusion of Tunney, a Democrat. His criticism of Tunney didn’t do much to help the Cubs, even if that was his intention. I’d love to know who reached out to Axelrod to scold him first – Emanuel or the Cubs?)
For their part, the Cubs denied to the Tribune that they’ve been orchestrating any of the negative PR against Tunney (by, for example, leaking the scoreboard plan, or asking Axelrod to rip Tunney), but reiterated that the April 1 deadline for having a deal in place (in order to make the construction arrangements need to start work after the season) is very real.