Cubs Could Host as Many as 25 Concerts, Movies in Triangle Plaza Under Plan

By Serena Dai on February 11, 2014 6:38am 

 The proposed plaza on the west side of Wrigley Field would get a year-round liquor license under a new ordinance submitted by 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney.
The proposed plaza on the west side of Wrigley Field would get a year-round liquor license under a new ordinance submitted by 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney.
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Chicago Cubs

WRIGLEYVILLE — A public plaza the Cubs plan to open next to Wrigley Field could host as many as 25 events a year with amplified sound, including concerts and movies, on nongame days, if the latest version of the team's plan is approved.

A preliminary outline of the plaza's plan of operations, distributed during closed neighborhood meetings in recent weeks, calls for up to 25 events with "outdoor amplified sound" at the so-called triangle plaza. The special events would be held when Wrigley Field isn't being used for games or events.

Amplified sound could be used until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays both during the 25 special events and on game days, according to the draft plan.

Sound would count as "amplified" if people at Racine Avenue, about a block away, have to raise their voices to have a conversation, the plan said.

The type of events the Cubs would host at the plaza has not been determined, and not all 25 would necessarily be concerts, said Julian Green, a team spokesman. Movies would count against the total, as would events like the Red Bull Fuel and Fury event the area hosted in 2011.

When not used to host special events, the plaza would largely serve as an outdoor patio, Green said. An ice rink at the site, which was closed this year after four years in operation, would open for 90 days a year and have amplified sound but would not count as a special event as long as the sound did not reach certain levels.

The 25-event limit stemmed from neighbor concerns that the Cubs would host an unlimited number of events in the plaza, Green said.

"This was a number we started to get the conversation going," he said.

The Cubs' plan also outlined when beer, wine and liquor could be served. It included security details and hours of operation — much of which already had been included in the original sports plaza ordinance that Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) introduced in November.

The plan noted that the regulations shown to neighbors "are purely for discussion purposes only," as the plans could change after neighborhood consultation.

Neighborhood groups such as the Lake View Citizens' Council have not reached a consensus on a plaza ordinance, but residents have raised several concerns.

Some neighbors said the Cubs should have to play by the same rules as all outdoor patios in the city, which cannot play music at all. The team has yet to define what types of events would be allowed, raising questions among some residents about the character of the events.

Residents who live closer than Racine Avenue, along Patterson Avenue and Addison Street, are worried they could be subjected to far higher levels of sound.

"People can't open their windows and be on their own decks?" said Terie Kata, a member of Lake View Citizens' Council board and East Lake View Neighbors. "It's ridiculous."

The team has always said it wanted to host events such as a farmers markets and live music in the plaza, but the original ordinance did not dictate the number of events.

Tunney declined to give his opinion of the current version of the plan, but said more community input is needed.

The alderman has previously said the plaza should attract more "healthy traffic and more diverse traffic that's not just feeding on the Cubs frenzy.

"Our goal is to make Clark and Addison a year-round activity center," he said. "Our goal is to not make this feast or famine."

Even if City Council approves this version of the plaza plan, the team has said it won't be constructing the plaza — or any part of the Wrigley rehab plan — until the threat of a lawsuit from the nearby rooftop owners goes away.

Talks between the team and the rooftops on their 20-year revenue-sharing deal increasingly appear headed toward court after the team applied for a permit late last month to construct a right-field sign, potentially blocking some of the rooftop views of the field.

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. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.

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