Tunney: Cubs Should Build New Garage if Remote Lot Remains Underused

By Serena Dai on May 11, 2013 8:24am 

 Ald. Tom Tunney wants to hold the Cubs more accountable for parking solutions.
Ald. Tom Tunney wants to hold the Cubs more accountable for parking solutions.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

LAKEVIEW — The Cubs are focusing on remote parking as a solution to parking woes outside Wrigley Field, but if it fails, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) wants the team to build a garage. 

The Cubs agreed to make the remote parking lot at DeVry University free in hopes of attracting more users, down from the current cost of $6, and to increase the capacity to 1,000 from a minimum of 500. 

Remote parking became the focus after neighbors protested an idea to build a 650-space lot at Clark and Grace. 

But if people do not use the lot, the Cubs should still be responsible for finding alternate parking solutions — including building the garage at Clark and Grace, Tunney said.

"There will be a threshold where if you aren't successful, you’ll have to figure out somewhere where you can build parking," Tunney said. "It's a two-tier approach."

Parking garages are expensive to build and difficult to utilize all-year round, Tunney said, so putting that as part of the deal could push the Cubs to promote remote parking.

Incentives to attract fans to remote parking were built into the last neighborhood protection plan, too. The DeVry lot currently holds capacity for 500 cars.

If fewer than 300 cars used it per night and weekend game on average, all of the parking revenue would go to the neighborhood. If fewer than 500 cars park there on average each game, then 75 percent of parking revenue would go to the neighborhood.

The current ordinance also demands that the team make "reasonable efforts to promote and increase the use of remote parking." But over the years, the lot remained underutilized. 

In 2012, an average of less than 300 cars per event used the remote parking. The alderman called the revenue given to the neighborhood a "mild penalty" to the Cubs for not fulfilling parking goals.

"The Cubs need to be much more accountable about parking strategies," Tunney said. "If you don't do it, you're going to be severely penalized."

The amendment introduced last Wednesday did not include a penalty if the remote lots are underutilized. Tunney's chief of staff Erin Duffy said if remote lots fail as a parking solution, the alderman will revisit the topic and look at asking for a garage.

Parking has been a sticking point as the Cubs seek city approval for the $500 million investment in the field and surrounding neighborhood. Residents do not want Cubs fans to park on the streets, but many also contest adding more spaces in the already congested neighborhood.

The team seeks to build a 300-space garage near the Taco Bell on Addison Street to help replace lost spots. A remote lot at Irving Park Road and Rockwell Avenue, in North Center, with about 500 additional parking spots, has also been discussed, but Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team would not consider it until the entire deal is approved.

Green said the Cubs do not consider money given to the neighborhood's CubFund as a penalty, and that they have obeyed all aspects of the previous ordinance. Lufrano welcomed suggestions for other potential lots that could be used on game days. 

"The hard part is changing people’s behaviors," Lufrano said. "I can’t guarantee it. I’ll try. If it does work, it will happen over time."

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.

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