If you’ve been at or around Wrigley Field lately, you are well aware of the on-going construction, primarily on the Clark Street side.
Indeed, the former “Triangle Property” is no more, as the new outdoor patio/plaza and office buildings are being built upon its remains.
If your unfamiliar with the planned Outdoor Plaza, you can read more about it here. Essentially, the open, outdoor area will be home to concerts, farmers markets, community activities, as well as eating, drinking, and shopping. There are rules for the plaza, though, on when it can be utilized, and when folks can or cannot be boozing in the area, which you can read more about here. Essentially, no alcohol will be sold during or for one hour after Cubs games, so that fans and pedestrians are still directed towards the many Wrigleyville bars in the surrounding area.
To that end, though, we do have some news to relay: The Chicago Cubs have applied for an outdoor liquor license.
According to reports from Danny Ecker (Crains Chicago Business), Ariel Cheung and David Matthews (DNAInfo.com), and Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun Times), the Chicago Cubs have applied for an city outdoor patio liquor license in hopes of selling beer outside of Wrigley Field.
However, the move was not a simply a procedural one. In fact, the Cubs are filing for the liquor license after talks with local Alderman Tom Tunney reportedly broke down.
In 2013, Tunney proposed a new sports plaza liquor license that would apply to all large sports venues in Chicago. The bottom line of those rules amounts to: alcohol sales are allowed until 11:00 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends and during events inside the stadium. But recently, Tunney introduced an amended version of that bill that cut the times down to 9:00 p.m. on weeknights and 10:00 p.m. on weekends – something with which the Cubs were not pleased.
“It has become clear since then that the alderman is seeking to place further restrictions that create an unlevel playing field to favor a select group of businesses over others,” said Cubs spokesman Julian Green via Crain’s Chicago Business. “We believe that we should be able to compete fairly, provide choices to fans and neighbors who would like to enjoy the plaza in terms of the vision that we have to create a 365-day destination.”
Green went on to add that although the license the Cubs have applied for doesn’t actually fulfill the requirements they originally set out to obtain, they could no longer afford to wait any longer. Indeed, the team already has plans to start booking events at the plaza during 2017.
Tunney responded to the Cubs’ move to file for the liquor license outside of their negotiations, while providing some additional context and reasoning.
“We are very concerned with the potential serving of alcohol to thousands of people on the plaza every day of the year,” Tunney said Thursday via DNAInfo.com. “That’s why I proposed a plaza ordinance that allowed beer and wine service and events on a more limited basis while we worked through any issues.”
It’s hard to take a particular side on the issue, because everyone is kind of just doing their jobs. The Cubs, on the one hand, have plans they need to make, because events book out far in advance. Whereas Alderman Tunney is looking out for the residents and other businesses in his ward. His “number one priority,” according to a statement relayed by the Sun Times, is to ensure the public safety while preserving the quality of life for neighbors and fans.
I’ll hold out hope that the Cubs can get the license they need by the time they need it, but can still work out a compromise with the City and Alderman that is mutually beneficial to the Cubs, the neighborhood, and everyone that falls within it.
What can I say? I’m young, optimistic, and wouldn’t mind having a beer or two sitting just outside of the Friendly Confines.