Annual Wrigley Field Advisory Meeting: “Cranes in the ground this year!”

The Chicago Cubs held their annual advisory meeting with the community Wednesday evening at the 19th District Town Hall police station. Alderman Tom Tunney of Chicago’s 44th Ward presided over the event. Tunney made clear throughout the evening that he wanted Wrigley Field to remain the home of the Cubs for the next 100 years. To that end, Tunney described a desire for “a workable plan that will work for the community.” The Alderman also predicted construction “cranes in the ground this year.”

During the meeting, Tunney intimated that the Cubs and rooftop owners were close to reaching a deal. When asked by a resident why 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Connor was brought in to negotiate with the Cubs and the rooftop owners, in lieumeeting tunney of Tunney, the Alderman stated that he had asked O’Connor to assist with negotiations. According to Tunney, the goal is to get a deal done and a number of Aldermen have helped Tunney throughout the renovation negotiations. Some have suggested that O’Connor, who serves as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s city council floor leader, represents the positions held by Emanuel during these with the negotiations. Alderman Tunney, himself, speculated during the meeting that perhaps O’Connor could do something during the negotiations that the Mayor could not do himself. Perhaps someone will write a book one day that describes the machinations involved in the prolonged renovation negotiations. Until then, we are left with conjecture about power plays, arm twisting, and side deals. In any event, for the past two months now, the tenor of neighborhood meetings with the Cubs and various elected officials has led me to believe that a settlement is imminent.

In addition to the tussle over outfield advertising signs and a video screen, the final piece of the renovation puzzle may involve the proposed uses of the “Triangle plaza.” As Alderman Tunney pointed out, nothing is approved yet concerning the terms of use for the plaza. The Cubs clearly contemplate using the plaza for a number of events not limited to ice skating, movies, and small concerts. Neighbors expressed concerns over the sale of alcohol on the plaza during non-game days as well as the plaza’s use for “private” Cubs events. After terms of the rooftop deal are released, expect the plaza’s use to become the next, and hopefully final, piece of the Wrigley Field renovation puzzle.meeting sign tow zone

Over the course of the hour and a half meeting, Kam Buckner, manager of government and neighborhood relations, represented the Cubs while myriad City department personnel provided their annual reports. Here are a few nuggets that came out of the meeting:

Fun Facts from 2013:

  • The Cubs remote parking site only serviced 14,000 cars during the entire 2013 season.
  • The Cubs checked over 4,500 bicycles last season.
  • Buses provided rides to an average of 865 riders per day game and 564 riders per night game during 2013.
  • The City towed 309 cars in the neighborhood during Cubs’ games last year.
  • The City employs five to seven parking enforcement officers on game days.
  • The City issued 11% more parking tickets in 2013 than in 2012.

What to look forward to in 2014?

  • The Cubs will offer a FREE shuttle from a parking lot located at 3900 North Rockwell (one block south of Irving Park near Western Avenue).

meeting sign

  • The Cubs are in the process of paving the Green Lot located at the intersection of Grace and Racine Streets.
  • The Cubs plan to begin work on upgrading the Brown Lot (next to Taco Bell) by mid-season.
  • The Cubs have scheduled only 38 night games in 2014 – fewer than their allotted total.
  • The Cubs have plans to offer free parking for neighborhood residents at the Green and Blue lots on non-game days.
  • The City has added additional police officers on the midnight watch to address and combat late evening incidents as well as more bicycle officers for game days.
  • Police will crack down on bike riders who fail to follow traffic laws.
  • Police will crack down on drinking on the public way before, during, and after concert events.
  • Neighborhood residents will be allowed to continue the “time honored tradition” of renting parking spaces in their garages or yards. However, residents will be limited to renting spaces to a maximum of three cars per game.
  • Police have requested that the City install a Police Observation Device (POD) (basically a fancy police camera) on Clark Street that law enforcement can use to monitor activity and detect crime.

meeting po po

  • There will be 30 more uniformed police officers in the neighborhood following Cubs games.
  • The Cubs will spend an additional $750,000 to augment police efforts to provide neighborhood protection.
  • Neighborhood bars will be required to provide security on game days and must close/roll up external windows by 10:00pm each night.
  • The City will add 14 more buses for day games and ten additional busses for night games. The buses will begin running two hours before games and they will prepare to stage on Addison Street approximately 30 minutes prior to each game’s end.
  • Sheffield Street will host concession stands beginning two hours before games and running through the completion of the second inning during weekend home games from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  • In the aftermath of Pearl Jam’s storm-delayed concert last season, the City will levy monetary penalties if concerts extend beyond the 11:00pm curfew.
  • The Cubs have donated 1.1 million dollars to the City for construction of traffic lights at the intersection of Clark and Roscoe Streets as well as the intersection of Clark, School, and Aldine Streets.
  • The Cubs donated money to build a playlot at 1230 W. School Street.
  • No pedestrians were hit by cars on 2013 game days.
  •  Police cracked down on “bucket boys,” panhandlers, and ticket scalpers last season with great success.

Upcoming Wrigley Field Events:

  • April 12, 2014: “Race to Wrigley”
  • April 26, 2014: Northwestern battles the University of Southern California in women’s lacrosse.
  • July 18, 2014:  Billy Joel concert
  • July 19, 2014:  Blake Shelton concert



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