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Wrigley Field Renovations: Neighbors Ask for Compromises on Night Games

By Serena Dai | June 4, 2013 8:31am
 The Cubs and the city reached an agreement on $500 million in renovations and neighborhood improvements.
Cubs announce new Wrigley renovations
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LAKEVIEW — Neighbors made another pitch to Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week in hopes of adding caveats to the Wrigley Field night game ordinance that enters a committee hearing Tuesday.

Lake View Citizens' Council, an umbrella group for 10 neighborhood organizations, sent a letter to the mayor's office saying that the council still disagrees with the revival of six Friday 3:05 games and raising the night game limit to 40, with six more in case of broadcast requirements.

But if they can't get their original requests — a 33 night game limit and no Friday 3:05 games — then a few "minimum" edits need to be added to the night game ordinance, they said.

For one, any game over the 40 limit should count against either future night games or Friday 3:05 games, the letter says.

Because Friday 3:05 games could happen as early as this season, LVCC asks that the team limit themselves to three games in 2013 as a trial — with existing night game parking restrictions enforced, traffic studies performed during the game and local business surveys conducted to check the impact.

If Friday 3:05 games stay, the neighborhood organization wants night game parking restrictions enforced during all of them and for the team to host no more than one a month.

Day games should only be rescheduled as day games, the letter asks.

Once the amendment passes, it should expire in 2015 — just as the current ordinance does — so that it can be reviewed along with aspects of the planned development, which includes everything from signage in the park to the height of the planned hotel, the letter asks.

Currently, the Cubs can schedule 27 night games, with the flexibility for three more in case Major League Baseball asks. The new ordinance allows the team to schedule 35 night games, with five more for MLB and an additional six that must be asked for on a case-by-case basis — for a total of 46 potential night games. 

The night game number does not include four concerts the Cubs are allowed to plan.

"We only wanted 37 [night events, including concerts]," organization president Will DeMille said. "We're not getting what we asked. If we have to live with that, we'd like this other flexibility."

The Cubs have been trying to ease restrictions on the field to move forward on a $500 million renovation of the field and development in the neighborhood. One of many sticking points has been the number of night games and Friday 3:05 games the team can play.

The team thinks it has already struck a "fair compromise" after attending more than 30 community meetings, said spokesman Julian Green. They initially asked for 12 Friday 3:05 games and 54 night games, or the league average.

To say the process has moved forward without sufficient input from the community "is severely misleading," he said. The team has demonstrated that it will follow through on neighborhood protections like additional parking, security and traffic management, he said.

"We have lived up to our commitment to preserve and protect the quality of life in Lakeview," Green said. "There is nothing to suggest we plan to fall short of this commitment."

Mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said they have received the letter from the neighborhood organization and that "community input is invaluable, which is why numerous community meetings are being held throughout the process."

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) was not available for comment, but he has been attending neighborhood group meetings in the weeks since the framework was announced. He has emphasized his commitment to the needs of the community — and his hesitation to trust the promises of team officials because of his "institutional knowledge" of the community's history with the neighborhood, he has said.

"The Tribune put zero dollars into Wrigley Field," he said at one meeting last month. "While everyone else scrimped, renovated, what did we get? We basically got a kick in the ass.

"You think I got a chip on my shoulder as far as what they did and didn’t do?"

But Tunney, like the neighborhood groups, has said he's committed to keeping the Cubs in Wrigley Field. 

"Everyone wants to restore Wrigley," DeMille said. "It's doing it in a way that works for residents."

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