If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ll know that things have been moving fairly quickly in terms of the Cubs, their impending plaza and Alderman Tom Tunney.
Moving, but not necessarily progressing.
- The Cubs began building the plaza as part of the overall Wrigley Field renovation, so they started discussing the plaza rules with the Alderman and the city.
- Those talks broke down, so the Cubs moved forward and applied for an outdoor liquor license
- In an effort to get the Cubs back to the negotiating table, Tunney revamped his original plaza proposal and presented it last Wednesday. Some changes were solid compromises (later hours), while others were pretty surprising (a ticket would be required for entry to the plaza, etc.).
- The Mayor spoke optimistically on the issue, urged both sides to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Which brings us to the latest: Tunney has proposed another new plan, and the Cubs remain unhappy about it.
In an article at Crain’s Chicago Business, Danny Ecker reports that Alderman Tom Tunney released yet another revamped plan for the Cubs open air plaza on Wednesday, with some more changes from last week’s iterations. Namely, the Cubs would be allowed to sell alcohol in the plaza at Wrigley Field during games (or set number of special events), but not year round.
In addition, alcohol (beer and wine only under this proposal) could be served starting two hours before the game (or event) and end in the seventh inning; rules which mirror those followed inside the stadium. Special events would be limited to eight times per year.
But one of the most notable and possibly contentious point from last week’s proposal – only ticket holders would be allowed on the patio – wasn’t quite resolved the way I’m guessing the Cubs were hoping. In his new plan released yesterday, Tunney is now proposing that those without tickets could enter/enjoy the patio, but would not be allowed to purchase drinks.
That’s not necessarily a helpful change, given that one of the many purposes of the outdoor patio seems to be that of a sizable outdoor beer garden actually located at Wrigley Field. To prohibit those without tickets from purchasing alcohol on the plaza is, in my opinion, not too far away from not allowing them on the plaza without a ticket at all.
(You can read more about Tunney’s proposal (including an actual draft of it) here at Crain’s Chicago Business)
Expectedly, the Cubs were not very thrilled.
And an article at DNA Info by Ariel Cheung confirms as much, quoting Cubs spokesman Julian Green: “After two years of discussions, [Tunney] is changing his mind once again and further restricting the ability to operate a successful plaza to protect the profits of others.” Green later added that the new proposal was a clear step backward and effectively creating an uneven playing field.
How are things uneven? According to Green, the Cubs want liquor sales on the plaza to match time limits granted by an outdoor patio liquor license (11:00 pm on weekdays, midnight on Friday and Saturday). Anything else Green added, “is pretty much a non-starter.” All of which is to say, that’s why the Cubs just pushed ahead on applying for the license (in other words, they don’t need to come to an agreement with Tunney if they can get the license approved).
Like I said earlier this week, this a pretty sticky situation with whole lot of grey on both sides. But with that said, there’s two fairly obvious positions emerging: 1) The Cubs would like to sell alcohol on their premises to anyone over the age of 21, according to the rules and regulations set forth by outdoor liquor licenses and 2) Alderman Tunney is doing his best to limit alcohol sales to a) certain people b) certain times of the day and c) certain times of the year.
I’m not quite sure an easy/clear compromise exists here, given how far apart both sides are, but I’ll continue to hope for one. As usual, we’ll update you as this story continues to develop.