Last week, the City Council’s License Committee paved the way for the Wrigley Field Plaza, by passing an ordinance forged from a deal between Alderman Tom Tunney and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The ordinance was heavily and openly contested by the Chicago Cubs, because under the parameters of the deal, the Cubs would be
- Forced to restrict access to the plaza (to fans with tickets),
- Prohibited from obtaining a traditional outdoor patio liquor license (including the rights such a license provides),
- Restricted on the number, size, and type of non-game events, and
- Forced (again) to entertain closing times that are different (earlier) than other outdoor patios in the area.
The City heard the Cubs warning … and passed the ordinance anyway.
The proverbial ball now lies in the Cubs court (or on their field?). For his part, Tom Ricketts is disappointed in the decision (and the limitations it puts on the plaza’s overall potential), but is still excited about the plaza itself. “The plaza is going to be awesome,” Ricketts said on 67o the Score. “It’s going to be great for the neighborhood.” Later adding that, although the Cubs can accept where they’re at right now, the deal is simply not what they agreed upon and negotiated for a couple of years ago.
In fact, that may be true enough for the Cubs to take legal action (hence the “The City may be responsible for financial damages,” warning from earlier). Cubs spokesman Julian Green told the Tribune that the ordinance – which has been heralded as a compromise – actually puts in a “bizarre set of parameters,” that will restrict the Cubs from operating and utilizing the plaza to it’s full and previously authorized potential. Later adding that, “it [the ordinance] raises legal questions.”
You’d hate to see the Cubs enter into a lengthy legal battle with anyone, let alone the City of Chicago, but that may well be where this is headed. If that is indeed the case, I’m not entirely sure what can/will happen with the plaza in the meantime. Ricketts has indicated that the Cubs will do the best with what the hand they’ve been dealt, so maybe that means following the rules until the rules are officially changed via continued negotiations. Or, maybe it means fighting it with everything they’ve got. We’ll see.
As always, we’ll keep you updated as this story continues to develop. Although, I suspect there may be some time before the next big update comes out.