CITY HALL — A proposal to give the Cubs additional night games at Wrigley Field and six 3:05 p.m. Friday starts a year cleared a city committee Tuesday and headed to the City Council for approval.
The Cubs would get to play 40 night games at Wrigley Field, up from the current 30, and as many as six more if the measure passes the full council Wednesday. They would also get six 3:05 p.m. starts on Fridays — previously done away with in a 2003 compromise — and would be allowed to schedule two night games on either Friday or Saturday. Wrigley would also be cleared to play host to four concerts or other events a year.
The 3:05 starts would go into effect this season, the additional night games next year.
Calling it "a very good compromise," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said, "I personally think it's a generous extension of goodwill" on behalf of Wrigleyville residents as part of the larger Wrigley Field renovation. He said he expected the Cubs to "renovate and remain at Wrigley Field for the next 100 years."
"The Cubs plan to invest in the Friendly Confines," said Mike Lufrano, the team's executive vice president of community affairs. Yet he added that the amended ordinance was "not yet sufficient" and sought more flexibility on Saturday night games that might be demanded by Major League Baseball. The Cubs, however, signaled their willingness to work with the compromise. As it is, the Cubs will get to schedule 35 night games and hold five back in a "bank," Tunney said. They would also get to shift six additional to night games if called for by MLB's national TV agreements.
"We're at the table," said Cub spokesman Julian Green. "We're gonna continue to talk with them and make sure that we can move forward."
"We've got more work to do, too," Tunney added. "This is part of a larger process. ... This is a big win for the Cubs.
"We know what we're doing. The community is supportive. I believe this is a great step forward."
Lufrano allowed that the team had sought a dozen 3:05 Friday starts. "They did ask for everything," Tunney jokingly added later.
The amended ordinance is sponsored by Tunney and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Tunney called it a compromise "with strong support and strong opposition," and members of the public commenting before the License Committee epitomized that. Dave Jennings, general manager of the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., said his business was greatly diminished by traffic congestion and high-priced parking during Wrigley night games. "The improvement of one business cannot be at the expense of another, nor at the expense of an entire business community," he said.
John Handler, owner of Deleece Restaurant, 3747 N. Southport Ave., echoed that.
"We support the Cubs, but we want fairness," said Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors Association. "Saturday night games will kill many of our businesses," she added, especially restaurants. She called 3:05 Friday starts "rush-hour games" because of the traffic "gridlock" they bring on afterward in the late afternoon and early evening.
Yet Sam Sanchez, owner of Moe's Cantina and John Barleycorn along Clark Street, cheered additional night games. And Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, called the Cubs the "economic driver" of the area and pointed out "a lot of businesses profit immensely" from the traffic brought to Wrigley.
Lufrano presented a petition supporting additional night games that the Cubs circulated online signed by 9,000 people, 1,100 he said were from the Wrigleyville area.
Mark Church, who lives across Clark Street from Wrigley, dismissed any petition circulated on a Cub fan site, saying, "It's like asking kids at Great America, 'Would you like more roller coasters?'"
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and chief executive officer of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.