More Governmental Sparring For the Cubs Regarding Wrigley Field, It Seems

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More Governmental Sparring For the Cubs Regarding Wrigley Field, It Seems

Chicago Cubs

respect wrigleyGone are the weekly updates and Obsessive Watches of the Wrigley Field renovation and its many complications. So that’s good.

The Ricketts Family owns a majority of the rooftops, the Cubs got some outfield signage and some more night games, the City’s various institutions and commissions have mostly come over to support this iteration of the project, and the neighborhood was able to voice its concerns and retain some important rights. Now that the renovation and development is entirely underway, most of the fighting is in the past.

Most, but not all.

For example, we know that there’s still some disagreement between the Cubs and the neighborhood about the appropriate rules for the open air plaza, and the Cubs discussed that a bit at this weekend’s convention. As addressed more deeply in this Crain’s article, while Alderman Tom Tunney’s proposed ordinance would limit the service of alcohol to 9pm on Sunday’s through Thursdays, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturday, the Cubs would like to see those times closer to 11pm and midnight, respectively. They don’t think it’s fair that the plaza operations would be treated differently than the other businesses in the area.

There’s also a second issue that will pit the Cubs against some or all of the City/Alderman/neighborhood, as the team looks to, among other things, shut down car traffic on both Clark and Addison streets during games, and extend the sidewalk further out from the ballpark (Crain’s, Sun-Times). Both proposals are offered as a security and safety measures to prevent pedestrian traffic from spilling into the public way and potentially causing accidents, and to keep a secure buffer around a major gathering of people. Now, these requests aren’t particularly unique – if you recall, the Cubs already shut down traffic and bumped out the property line on both Waveland and Sheffield last year – but they are asking for a lot. Should both go through, the team would then have traffic entirely stopped on all four sides of Wrigley Field during games.

To be fair, though, the Cubs are following a league recommendation. According to MLB security recommendations, the team should maintain at least a 100-foot perimeter of control in every direction of the ballpark. And, it doesn’t seem like that is just an excuse the team is using to get what they want. If you were at the Cubs Convention, you’d have heard that the Cubs (per MLB regulations) are adding walkthrough metal detectors at every door to increase security and safety at the ballparks. Clearly, improving the safety of all ballparks has become a serious MLB consideration.

But not everyone sees it that way.

In this article at Chicago Business, Greg Hinz is rather aggressively against the proposed expansion of the perimeter and shut down of Clark and Addison. “It was one thing Ricketts was merely asking permission to use his property as he saw fit,” Hinz writes, “But Clark and Addison are not side streets that can be closed for a few hours with only minor inconvenience.” Hinz, who lives in the area, suggests that what was already a very difficult, but acceptable part about living in Wrigleyville would eventually become “impossible.”

And, while Hinz brings up some legitimate and thoughtful concerns (concerns that I, too, share), I doubt that his conclusion that the security precautions are solely about “green and making more of it” is fair, nor is the suggestion that simply hiring more security personnel is a total solution. Would the Cubs really not pay the salary of a few more security guards if it was really that easy? There is probably a mix of motivations involved in the request.

The neighborhood, as you might expect, is not thrilled with the request. For example, Jim Spencer, the president of East Lake View Neighbors, is urging the Mayor to deny the Cubs request. Citing the already congested traffic, closed streets and difficulty receiving packages and deliveries on game days, Spencer asks the City to tell the Cubs, “Don’t bother coming back with anymore stuff, because you’ve already gotten more than you deserve.” Noted in the same Sun-Times piece, Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors Association, mirrored Spencer’s thoughts, and also questioned whether the security measures were genuine or based in economics.

As of Monday, things don’t look great for the Cubs request. Kelly Quinn, a mayoral spokeswoman slowed the conversation way down, flatly telling both Crain’s and the Sun-Times that the Mayor will not support closing Clark and Addison.

Presumably, negotiations will continue from here, and perhaps there is some middle ground to be had. The Cubs aren’t making the request for no reason, and the City/Alderman/neighborhood aren’t saying no for no reason, either. This is a tricky spot, and the sides will have to be creative to find a solution that at least partially accommodates everyone’s interests.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami