LAKEVIEW — The Cubs have asked to be able to play as many as 55 night games, nearly doubling the number currently allowed.
The request to have 44 night games next season includes a request of up to 11 more night games if Major League Baseball asks to switch some afternoon games to night starts. That would dramatically increase the current number: 27, along with three possible additional night starts based on requests from MLB.
The Cubs have said they want more flexibility with the number of night games they can hold at Wrigley to help fund a $300 million renovation of the field.
The team has regularly touted the league average of 54 night events as a goal for Wrigley, but told neighbors at Tuesday's combined Community Directed Development Council and Lake View Citizens' Council meeting that they would accept 10 less if they could have permission for 11 extra night starts if MLB requests them.
In addition, the team is asking for four concerts a year. Each concert must be approved by a separate ordinance change.
The number of night games at Wrigley has slowly increased from when baseball was only an afternoon affair at the storied ballpark. In 1988, the Cubs were allowed 18 night games a year. The number grew to 27 in the 2004 neighborhood protection plan, which was supposed to last until 2015.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) told reporters at City Hall Wednesday that exactly what the Cubs want is unclear, and he said it's been tough to agree to a deal when "the asks keep changing.
"We need to pin them down on what they really want, whatever that number is" of night games, said Tunney, who said he personally has no preference. "My bottom line is to try to work out a comprehensive package."
The alderman said he supports the entire community and it's "not my job description" to worry about the team's relationship with MLB. He called on all sides to compromise so the Cubs have "the confidence to start renovating ASAP."
Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team has routinely asked for more night games, and said the only "moving target" is the size and location of signage and the jumbotron, which has changed to help lessen the impact on the rooftops across the street from Wrigley. Most recently, the team suggested moving the exterior wall in left field back to minimize the impact an outfield jumbotron would have on the rooftops on Waveland.
MLB generally only asks for special broadcasts when a team is doing well or in a particularly interesting match-up, and the hope is that there will eventually be strong demand to broadcast Cubs' games, Green said. It's possible the team won't request an extra 11 night games, depending on scheduling and the team's performance.
"We want the flexibility to have the additional night games without it counting toward some type of cap," he said.
Even without the MLB games, swallowing 17 more night games may be tough because it means most of the summer weekdays will have night games, said Will DeMille, president of the Lake View Citizens' Council.
Residents worry the games will increase traffic and make parking harder, and say those issues have yet to be addressed in negotiations. Many neighbors, frustrated by the state of negotiations, fear that whatever the community agrees to now, the Cubs will eventually ask for more.
In addition to more night games, the Cubs told neighbors they would like at least six of the 13 Friday home games to start at 3:05 p.m. The final number of 3:05 games and concerts may eventually be rolled into a deal along with night games, DeMille said.
"I would like to say we’re happy with the direction the talks are going and that there's hopefulness to come up with a creative solution," DeMille said. "But none of the answers have been solidified yet."
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com Chicago. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.