Emanuel Introduces Plan Raising Wrigley Field Night Game Limit to 40

By Serena Dai on May 8, 2013 5:02pm | Updated on May 8, 2013 5:14pm

 Mayor Emanuel introduced a plan Wednesday that ups the Cubs' night game limit to 40 from 30.
Mayor Emanuel introduced a plan Wednesday that ups the Cubs' night game limit to 40 from 30.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an amendment to the night game ordinance Wednesday, pushing the Cubs' night game limit up to 40, with six Friday 3:05 p.m. games as early as this year.

The current neighborhood protection plan that expires in 2015 limits the Cubs to 30 night games, with 27 scheduled and three in case Major League Baseball asks for a schedule change for broadcasts. Currently no Friday 3:05 games are played.

Emanuel's ordinance allows for 35 scheduled night games and five more in case of MLB asks. Any additional night games must be approved by City Council and would not count against the limit, including playoff games, rescheduled games and All-Star games.

The amendment also does not include four concerts Wrigley Field is allowed to host each year, which will still be handled by a separate ordinance so that the timing and performer will have community review, said Bennett Lawson, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th)'s chief of staff. 

In total, the Cubs will have the flexibility to schedule up to 56 or more night events.

It also allows the Cubs to schedule the Friday 3:05 games as early as this season, with time for community members to review traffic studies, Tunney said in a statement. During negotiations to up the number of night games from 18 to 30, the Cubs agreed to end Friday 3:05 games due to community concerns of traffic.

Emanuel said if the Cubs need to ask for more games, it means they're doing well — which the neighborhood will likely embrace. 

"If the Cubs are starting to win, I think everybody will be cheering in the city and that will be a good thing," he said.

As part of the framework deal to up night games, the team agreed to make the remote parking lot at DeVry University free, pay for up to 10 extra police officers after certain night games and contribute $3.75 million to infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years, to replace the current CubFund, an account the team pays into every year as part of the current ordinance. 

"We have secured unprecedented neighborhood protections as part of this framework committed to by the Cubs," Tunney said in a statement. 

The Cubs have been trying to gain more flexibility to help fund a $500 million restoration of the field and development in the community. The team initially wanted to meet the league average of 54 night games but backlash from a neighborhood that feared more traffic and damage to small business pushed the number down to 40.

Cubs' community affairs representative Mike Lufrano has touted more night games as a way for players to have a more consistent schedule.

"We can be home for a week and play four or five different game times," he said at Tuesday's East Lake View Neighbors meeting. "That means you’re waking up at a different time each day. ... When you’re playing against a team that doesn’t have to do that, that has an impact on the team."

Team spokesman Julian Green said they appreciate the support of Tunney and the mayor and look forward to hashing out more details.

Last year, Cubs representatives formed a plan with the Lake View Citizens' Council that dictated 37 total night events, including four concerts — a number the umbrella neighborhood organization is still pushing as the ordinance moves toward the Business and Licensing Committee.

Tunney said Tuesday at ELVN that the new night game ordinance could pass in 30-60 days, optimistically speaking. Other changes to Wrigleyville, from signage to the planned hotel, will undergo a far more rigorous public process due to the number of committees a planned development must pass.

It may not be exactly the number neighborhood representatives ask for, but Tunney has said all sides need to compromise. 

"I’ve gone from 30 to 40," he said Tuesday. "I've gone from zero to six. If that isn’t a compromise, I don’t know what is."

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.

City Hall reporter Ted Cox contributed to this report.

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