Time for another update on the increasingly-frustrating, hotly-debated Wrigleyville Plaza!
Our last check in came on May 20th, and at the time, Alderman Tom Tunney had just proposed another new set of rules and regulations for the open air plaza. If you haven’t kept up, the Cubs remain unhappy with the Alderman’s increasingly strict and unique (to the Cubs) limitations on alcohol sales ,and plan to move forward with or without his support.
On Wednesday, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts broke his relative silence on the matter at a luncheon with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. You can read his comments in their entirety here at the Chicago Sun-Times and at DNA Info.com.
“This is not a beer garden …. This is not an all-night rave party,” Ricketts told reporters, while making his case at the luncheon. “This is for people that are coming to the game. Something for them to do after the game – to watch the post-game show to hang out for a little bit. We’re not planning on staying open late or doing anything that would be inconsistent with our goal to be responsible neighbors.”
Ricketts added that he just wants to go back to the agreement set forth in Tunney’s original 2013 proposal.
Those details include keeping the plaza open until 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on the weekends, and the ability to serve spirits in addition to beer and wine. “The fact is, it’s our property,” said Ricketts. “It’s what we negotiated. And we just think it’s the right answer to let us continue doing what we already discussed.”
And Ricketts has held pretty firmly at that point. He continued to reiterate his position that the Cubs should not have to accept anything less than the deal they agreed upon a few years ago.
Tunney recently responded, though (Sun-Times), claiming that before a liquor license is granted, the city must first address “the issues that come with a 365-day-a-year, 12-hour-a-day outdoor beer garden serving 4,000 patrons.” Tunney’s plan, you’ll recall, would limit liquor sales to just beer and wine and close the plaza at 9 p.m. on weekdays, 10 p.m. on weekends, among many other bits.
And herein lies a few of the Ricketts’ biggest qualms.
First, the limited hours and restriction on spirits would be unique to the Cubs. Many other businesses in the area have outdoor patio liquor licenses that are not limited in that regard. That said, Tunney has indicated that Ricketts has been open to limiting alcohol to just beer and wine. Baby steps, I suppose.
But the more important issue is how the Ricketts feel about the perception of the plaza. Instead of a rave or 24/7 beer garden, like the quote says above, Ricketts envisions a Wrigley Field that is a “world-class destination,” akin to the town squares in Europe. According to Ricketts, the plaza and surrounding area of Wrigley Field is going to be his families’ legacy. And he plans on holding many family events in the area that do not include alcohol at all. That said, on game days, people will want and expect alcohol and the Cubs feel it is within their right to give it to them.
I’m not really sure where this debate is going, as each side is largely sticking to its guns. Without some kind of agreement, the Cubs may have to see where their request for a patio liquor license winds up. And if that does not go through, some leverage will have been lost.
As always, we’ll continue to keep you updated on this story as it unfold, but for now, it’s the status quo.