Today, the ordinance amendment that would allow the Cubs to play additional night games is being discussed at the City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection, in advance – presumably – of it being addressed at the full City Council meeting tomorrow. Having maneuvered my way around a variety of government web sites in my days as a lawyer (I swear they are designed to be as difficult to navigate as possible), I was able to find a copy of the actual proposed night game ordinance amendment.
There is a fair bit of interesting bits in the eight page ordinance amendment, but it’s mostly as we’ve already heard. And that’s a good thing. Although these things are written in abstruse, inaccessible language, to my eye, the details of the ordinance are largely as have been reported – there are no scary skeletons.
Let’s go ahead and review the details, though. A reminder: this is the ordinance amendment as it has been proposed by the Mayor, the Alderman, and the Cubs. It is not yet final, and is subject to tweaking before it is passed by City Council (as soon as tomorrow). For now, however, these are the details.
- The Cubs are permitted to schedule 35 night games, and will get up to 5 games every year flipped from day games to night games where the MLB national broadcast contract calls for it (i.e., when MLB says, “hey, Cubs, we want that game to be a night game so we can broadcast it nationally”). The Cubs could get an additional 6 games flipped from day games to night games where the MLB national broadcast contract calls for it, but only if the Cubs get pre-approval from City Council first. If that’s not possible (the Council meets just once a month), then there’s a long chain of steps to get interim approval.
- The Cubs’ night games will be scheduled between 7:05pm CT and 8pm CT.
- A “night game” appears to be any game scheduled after 2pm CT that lasts past 8pm CT (which is why the Cubs can’t game the system and schedule a bunch of 6:45pm CT starts). If a game scheduled before 2pm CT lasts past 8pm CT (because of weather or long play), that’s ok – it doesn’t suddenly become a night game and count against the total.
- The Cubs are permitted up to six Friday starts between 2pm CT and 4:10pm CT. This is the “3:05pm CT” starts we’ve heard a lot about. Turns out the Cubs could scheduled those games for any time in that window, but they must prefer 3:05pm.
- The Cubs can’t schedule any games to begin after 4:10 pm CT on Fridays or Saturdays (unless MLB calls for it). Previously, the Cubs were permitted to schedule up to two night games on Saturdays.
- The Cubs are permitted up to four concerts per year, which do not count as “night games.” The Cubs can have more than four concerts if they want, but any concert after four counts as a “night game.”
- Every conceivable “special” game – playoffs, All-Star game, tie-breaker games, etc., is carved out, and does not count as a night game.
- It looks like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day are also carved out of the definition of a “night game.” It also looks like Sunday night games are carved out, though the Cubs would probably rather continue using those as day games anyway.
- Events taking place between November 1 and March 31 at night basically don’t count as anything. Go nuts, Cubs.
- Events expected to have less than 15,000 people in attendance (an increase from 10,000) don’t count as “night games.” This does not refer to a drop in Cubs attendance, mind you. This is talking about other sporting events that are expected to have a lower draw (Northwestern sports, soccer, etc.).
- The ordinance is in effect for five years, and cannot be amended without consultation with the Cubs until after September 2014. Otherwise, the 46-game portion of the ordinance can be amended only in October, November or December (i.e., the City can’t cut the Cubs off in the middle of a season).