As the Chicago Cubs push forward on the construction of the new open-air plaza on the famous triangle property of Clark Street, they’ve been met with a series of roadblocks (right or wrong) from the neighborhood and the city.
A few weeks back, for example, talks broke down between the Cubs and Alderman Tom Tunney, prompting the Cubs to apply for an outdoor liquor license without any sort of agreement in place.
In response to the Cubs’ action, Alderman Tunney then proposed a completely revamped plan and presented it last week. That agreement had some compromises (like a later closing hour), but some rather surprisingly strict restrictions (a ticket to a game or concert at Wrigley Field would be required to enter and enjoy the plaza). Although it appeared that the two sides were quite a distance away from an agreement, the most recent report from DNA Info (via Ariel Cheung and David Mathews) indicates that consensus may be emerging …
… at least according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
On Tuesday, Mayor Emanuel spoke on the negotiations, telling DNAinfo, “People are talking to each other – that’s the good news. There’s not total agreement on everything, but there’s a consensus emerging on how to move forward.”
Okay, well that is technically good news, if the alternative is that talks have once again completely broken down. For the Cubs, the neighborhood, and the fans’ sake (remember: revenue to the Cubs ultimately goes back into the organization), let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
And for his part Mayor Emanuel does believe a solution exists that will make way for the Cubs to have adequate use of the plaza, while still being a good neighbor in the surrounding community. The issue, in my opinion, is that the conflict is not solely about the residents of the Wrigleyville area (that’s me, so I can say that!), and instead also involves the other businesses around Wrigley Field – the most obvious example being the many fantastic Wrigleyville bars.
Obviously, a large outdoor patio at the actual Wrigley Field has the potential to negatively impact those businesses. Tunney is right to have their interests in mind (as well as the Cubs, being that they, too, are a pretty important business in the ward) … as long as those interests don’t necessarily trump the wishes of the residents of the area, who should carry an equal voice in the matter.
But in many ways, the neighbors have actually protested the manner with which the Cubs have proceeded in this particular case. Indeed, leaders of four Lakeview neighborhood groups – East Lake View Neighbors, Southport Neighbors, Hawthorne Neighbors and Triangle Neighbors – have claimed that the Cubs “misguided” move for a liquor license alienated the community and amounted to bullying, according to DNA Info.
Indeed, the presidents of those four neighborhood communities are urging the Ricketts to come back to the table and “engage us in the genuine and respectful manner that we deserve.” They wrote a two-page letter requesting as much, which you can read here at DNA Info.
As you can clearly tell, there are many legitimate sides to this issue, in addition to the many forces at work. Even as a member of the very community that this affects, it’s difficult to take any particular side, because so much is going on beyond my scope of view. Do I want a big open air patio that I can use at my leisure with almost no restrictions on time, alcohol, or access? Of course I do. But do I also feel a duty as a member of this particular community to have at least some sympathy for the many businesses (bars, restaurants, and shops) that I’ve been attending and enjoying for years? Yes, I do.
The best we can hope for, at this point, is that the two sides can get together and agree on a fair deal that makes everyone happy, even if they have to give up slightly more than they originally hoped.
As a Cubs fan and a Wrigleyville resident, I feel like I’m a child caught between two arguing parents, and I just want everyone to get along. I suspect eventually, as it was with the rest of the Wrigley Field renovations, that will be the case.
For much more on the plaza and the latest discussions, be sure to check out the DNAinfo report.