respect wrigleyI had planned to have an update on last night’s rally by neighbors who have concerns about the Cubs’ plans to develop outside of Wrigley Field, but it sounds like it was a relatively quiet affair. Tom Tunney, the Alderman of the ward in which Wrigley Field sits, was in attendance, and he continues to be a major part of the renovation story.

Today at 11am CT, the Chicago Plan Commission began the meeting that will pass upon the Cubs’ comprehensive renovation plan, and the step is not expected to represent a significant hurdle in the approval process. That doesn’t mean the day will go without fireworks, as Alderman Tunney reportedly plans to continue opposing the Cubs’ renovation plans, at least until his list of demands are met. Those demands have included:

  1. The proposed pedestrian bridge connecting the proposed hotel to the plaza west of the ballpark must be axed (Tunney doesn’t see the point in the bridge, and believes it could be a safety issue if you’ve got folks drinking or drunk on the bridge).
  2. The patio extending off of the hotel and over Patterson Street must be removed (too close to homes).
  3. The proposed hotel lobby must be located on Addison Street or Clark Street, not Patterson Street (because Patterson is a residential street).

According to the Sun-Times and the Tribune, Alderman Tunney has added an additional demand to his previous list (which included a reduction in the size of the outfield signage – a demand that he kind of got, even though he wasn’t happy about the scope of the reduction): a moratorium on additional outfield signs, beyond the two big ones, for 10 years. This demand, from Tunney’s perspective, is completely understandable. The Cubs’ contract with the rooftops runs just about another 10 years, and, with two signs going up in the outfield that don’t completely block any views, Tunney wants to make sure that no additional signs are put up to block views during the remainder of the contract.

Now, I’m saying only that the request from his perspective is understandable, not necessarily a good thing. When the Landmarks Commission approved various changes to Wrigley Field, it also approved a “Master Sign Plan,” in which the Cubs asked for everything under the sun as a possible future sign. The Cubs were simply protecting themselves in the event that they needed/wanted to add more signage in the future, and didn’t want to have to go through the same painful political rigmarole. I believe the Cubs when they say they aren’t itching to add a ton of new signs along the outfield wall or on The Old Scoreboard – the Cubs have an interest in preserving the beauty of Wrigley, and balancing that against the need for additional revenue. The key here is that the Cubs want options. They don’t want artificial restrictions. A sign moratorium would be just such an artificial restriction, and I think it’s fair if they fight it. The Cubs do have a contract with the rooftop partners, and I don’t think the Cubs’ immediate intention is to block them out of existence – just look at the lengths the Cubs are going to in order minimize the impact of the two new outfield signs.

According to those Sun-Times and Tribune reports, Tunney plans to fight the Mayor on the floor of City Council if his demands aren’t met. He has even starting rallying other aldermen to oppose the project, explaining that the local alderman should know what is best for his ward. Setting aside the fact that a $500 million, privately-funded project to renovate and improve one of the most important tourist destinations in Chicago reaches far, far beyond the best interests of his ward, I still have trouble wrapping around how Tunney believes this particular approach is best for his ward.

In my most head-tilting, incredulous voice: you want to kill a $500 million, privately-funded development project for your ward because of a pedestrian bridge? Really? You want to expend political capital fighting a widely popular $500 million, privately-funded development project for your ward because of a hotel entrance? Seriously? You want to actively solicit other aldermen to join you in opposing the Mayor on a $500 million, privately-funded development project that looks like a major victory for the Mayor because of the potential of a couple more signs inside a ballpark? For real?

Perhaps I’m unfairly framing things, but that all just sounds crazy to me. It’s becoming increasingly plausible to wonder whether Tunney has decided that he’s going to lose this fight no matter what, and has made the political calculation that it’s worth more to him to oppose the Mayor (and lose) than to work collaboratively with the Cubs.

For what it’s worth, this could all be a part of the negotiation dance, too. The Sun-Times report suggests that the Cubs have agreed to remove the patio that extends off from the hotel (item 2), and will consider moving the hotel entrance (item 3). Those are additional concessions Tunney can now claim that his hardball tactics helped him secure. I’m not so sure he’ll get his way on the bridge or the sign moratorium, though, and that’s when we’ll see how far he’s willing to go in this fight.

  • Cheese Chad

    I hate politicians. I try to refrain from hating people, just that actions that people make. But politicians are always acting in a way that benefits only themselves. Okay not all of them.

  • hawkcub

    The more Tunney keeps on moving the goal posts(making new demands every week) the more I think he wants the Cubs out of his Ward. Of course he can’t say that because of his relationship with the RTO’s.

  • md8232

    I’d like a US Attorney office investigation of Mr. Tunney. Sounds like he is a shakedown artist to me.

    • DarthHater

      And the difference between a “shakedown artist” and a “Chicago alderman” would be what, exactly?

      • md8232


      • MoneyBoy

        One is what he says he is, the other is elected.

        • DarthHater

          Well played.

  • JM

    I actually would like to see the sign behind home plate and on the outfield doors removed. They are what I notice as being added. .. not that a 5700 sq ft sign would be noticeable at all…

  • B Robs

    Tunney is just mad because, so far, only one side (the rooftops) has lined his pockets. He won’t go quietly into that good night until he’s on the take from both sides.

  • Hookers or Cake

    I can understand some concern about the hotel deck and lobby. Concerns about the little bridge that leads from the hotel to the triangle property and building seems ridiculous. As does any signage that doesn’t further block the rooftops.
    What I don’t get is that corner of Wrigley looks like a wasteland and dump and has for years. All the improvements will only double property value. It’ll be a boutique (read expensive) hotel. Not a Super 8 with hourly rates. Bringing in a loaded captive audience to spend more money in the area and making the area more of a destination on non game days… its like letting some of the golden eggs the goose lays, hatch. Giving birth to more golden egg laying geese. The mayor and city know this. The Cubs will get their way with some ‘play nice’ modest adjustments to appease everyone but the morans.

    • JM

      If that last word was supposed to be ” morons”, that’s very ironic.

      • md8232

        Google “Get a brain morans”. Probably the 1st image.

        • JM

          Ah! I see it so clearly now.

          How moranic of me.

        • Hookers or Cake

          Yes, perhaps we should have a special font for irony. For the geneiuses.

  • JM

    Let’s be nice. I wasn’t trying to be nasty, I simply thought it was ironic. I’ve been embarrassed by my phone’s auto-correct feature.

  • DarthHater

    I’m shocked that Tunney is so worried about drunks throwing things off the pedestrian bridge, while ignoring the menace of street-level drunks throwing things. If he really cared about the neighborhood, he would demand that all Cubs fans enter Wrigley via underground tunnels originating outside his ward.

    • Die hard

      So shocked that there is gambling on the premises? Just round up the usual suspects and play it again Sam

      • Tim

        Don’t mean to be THAT guy…..but the original quote is just “Play it, Sam.” There is no “again”

        Sorry again for being THAT guy.

  • Mike

    Cubs should move to Cellular Field for a season. By June Tunney will be on his knees begging them to come back before every business in Wrigleyville goes broke.

  • North Side Irish

    Danny Ecker ‏@DannyEcker 1m
    Tunney: “I have now arrived at the point where I have no more objections” to the Cubs project.

    I wasn’t sure that point existed…

    • North Side Irish

      Danny Ecker ‏@DannyEcker 14s
      Applause from the crowd after Tunney’s statements. Sharp contrast to how he sounded last week.

    • someday…2015?

      Sounds like someone got paid off.

      • caryatid62

        Nobody got paid off. Tunney likely got assurances that something else he wants for the ward will be fast-tracked with mayoral assistance. Or that someone he wants to see on some important subcommittee will be chosen for the position. To use the Royko terminology, he just clouted his way up.

        What makes Chicago politics Chicago politics is that it’s not about money; it’s about power. Power is the currency.

        • Mike

          So, one way or another he got paid off.

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  • 5412


    Make the crosswalk like the one at Ogilve station, fully enclosed an let the drunks hit the wall.

    I hope the Cubs move.


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